President Trump on Sunday said he had “strongly pressed” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia about election meddling during their first face-to-face meeting last week but did not dispute Moscow’s claim that he had accepted Mr. Putin’s denial of involvement, as he declared it “time to move forward” in a constructive United States relationship with Russia.
Mr. Trump’s account of his lengthy and closely scrutinized closed-door meeting with Mr. Putin, which came in a thread of morning Twitter posts, was his attempt to move beyond the controversy that has followed the session after Moscow characterized the election discussion as a meeting of the minds rather than a showdown between the American president and his Russian counterpart.
Mr. Trump’s tweets did little to dispel that notion, as he characterized his own position as an “opinion” and asserted that he was prepared to team with Moscow — which American intelligence agencies say meddled in the election last year, and will attempt to again — on forming an “impenetrable Cyber Security unit” to thwart future breaches.
“I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election,” Mr. Trump said in the post. “He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion.”
“We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives,” Mr. Trump continued in another message. “Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”
The posts served as Mr. Trump’s first public comments on the meeting after the White House declined to schedule the customary presidential news conference at the end of the Group of 20 summit meeting of major world economies in Hamburg, Germany. Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Putin came on the sideline of that gathering, which ended on Saturday.
Mr. Putin, however, broke with his normal practice of not speaking to reporters and held a lengthy news conference, in which he told reporters that Mr. Trump had “agreed” with his statements about election interference.
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SOURCE: New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis