Trump on pressing Putin on election meddling: 'What do you do? End up in a fistfight?'
Posted July 14
President Donald Trump told reporters he changed the subject with Russian President Vladimir Putin after pressing him repeatedly about the country's role in meddling in the 2016 US election.
"I told (Putin). I said, look, we can't -- we can't have -- now, he said absolutely not twice. What do you do? End up in a fistfight with somebody, OK?" Trump told reporters, in an exchange that was originally off-the-record, but later made public by the White House.
His remark came as a reporter -- aboard Air Force One during the President's trip to Paris -- asked him about what Putin said about Russia meddling in the election during their meeting at the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
The reporter repeatedly asked Trump about his interaction with Putin regarding the Russian government's role in the US election meddling.
US, Russia disagree over what Trump and Putin actually said to each other
"What I said, I asked him, were you involved? He said, very strongly -- said to him a second time -- totally different -- were you involved? Because we can't let that happen," Trump said. "But we can't have -- and I did say, we can't have a scintilla of doubt as our elections and going forward."
Trump then moved on to ask Putin about Syria.
Putin told reporters earlier this month that Trump appeared to agree with Moscow's position that it did not interfere in last year's election during their meeting at G20.
"I repeat, he asked a lot of questions on this matter," Putin said at a news conference. "I answered as many as I could answer. I think he took it into consideration and agreed with it. But you should ask him what his opinion is on that."
Trump, asked to respond to Putin's claim he agreed that Russia didn't meddle, took issue with the reporter's characterization of what the Russian President claimed.
"He didn't say that," Mr. Trump said. "No. He said, 'I think he accepted it, but you'll have to ask him.' That's a big difference."