Donald Trump is at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two seemed to have a good rapport, sharing a laugh over “fake news” and Russian election meddling.
According to The Hill, as the press was leaving the room before a meeting with Putin at the summit, Trump took a moment to call out one of his favorite nemeses – the press – before turning to joke with the Russian president.
“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do,” Trump said.
“We also have. It’s the same,” Putin replied.
The two then laughed together over their shared distaste for the press.
While Trump’s criticism of the press has been called out numerous times over the years, Putin’s comments are even more concerning. Numerous Russian journalists who have criticized Putin have turned up dead, and Russia ranks near the bottom when it comes to freedom of the press, according to the World Press Freedom Index.
The country has even gone so far as to outlaw what it sees as “fake news.” Any news that is a threat to public security can result in a fine and jail time for the reporter.
As for Trump, he has called news outlets “the enemy of the people” and has even gone so far as to call The New York Times’ reporting treasonous over a story about the U.S. using cyberattacks against Russia.
Trump also bonded with Putin over a scorn for journalists.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 28, 2019
“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn't it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”
“We also have,” Putin answered, in English. “It’s the same.”
They shared a chuckle. pic.twitter.com/atGGYxnwfc
During the same exchange, as The Hill reports, Trump was asked by journalists if he would tell Russia not to interfere in the U.S. election. Trump turned to Putin and pointed while grinning.
“Yes, of course, I will. Don’t meddle in the election, please. Don’t meddle in the election,” Trump said.
Putin laughed as a response to the comment.
The exchange emphasized that the president doesn’t take the question of election interference as seriously as many Democrats and Republicans do in the U.S. Trump outraged many when he said that he would consider taking incriminating information on an opponent from a foreign power during the upcoming election, something he was accused of doing from Russia in 2016.
The meeting is the first face-to-face one since Robert Mueller finished his 400-plus page report on Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election and the question of obstruction of justice. Though he promised to discuss election interference further with Putin, the notes from their meeting show that they talked about arms control and improving U.S.-Russia relations. They also discussed Venezuela, Ukraine, Iran, and Syria.