WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Sunday that “it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia” after his lengthy meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany. But he is still avoiding the question of whether he accepts Putin’s denial that Russia was responsible for meddling in the 2016 election.

Speaking in a series of tweets the morning after returning from a world leaders’ summit in Germany, Trump said he “strongly pressed” Putin twice over Russian meddling during their meeting Friday.

Trump said that Putin “vehemently denied” the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Russian hackers and propagandists tried to sway the election in Trump’s favor. But Trump would not say whether he believed Putin, tweeting only that he’s “already given my opinion.”

Trump has said he thinks Russia probably hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton staffers, but that “other people and/or countries” were likely involved as well. He said ahead of the meeting that, “Nobody knows for sure.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov first told reporters in Germany on Friday that Trump had accepted Putin’s assurances that Russia hadn’t meddled — an assertion Putin repeated Saturday after the Group of 20 summit. Putin said he left the meeting thinking that Trump had believed his in-person denials.

“He asked questions, I replied. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with the answers,” Putin said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not answer directly when asked Sunday if Trump had accepted Putin’s denial, but told reporters in Ukraine that Trump’s conversation with Putin on election interference went “about the way we expected.” Tillerson was the only other American official in the room.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also declined to say whether Trump accepted Putin’s denial. “Why would President Trump broadcast exactly what he said in the meeting? Strategically that makes no sense,” Mnuchin said. “He’s made it very clear how he feels. He’s made it very clear that he addressed it straight on.”

But White House chief of staff Reince Priebus took issue with Putin’s characterization.

“The president absolutely didn’t believe the denial of President Putin,” Priebus said. He said Trump had spent a “large part of the meeting on the subject,” but wanted to move onto other subjects.

He and other administration officials said Trump did not want Russian interference in last year’s election to prevent him from working with Putin’s government on other issues, including the civil war in Syria.

“You know, the past, I don’t know if we will ever come to an agreement, obviously with our Russian counterparts on that. I think the important thing is how do we assure that this doesn’t happen again,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson said that, “In all candidness, we did not expect an answer other than the one we received” from Russia.

“Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections,” added Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “This is Russia trying to save face.”

But in a show of U.S.-Russian cooperation, officials announced during the trip that the two sides had brokered a cease-fire in southern Syria that went into effect Sunday. Trump tweeted that the deal “will save lives.”

The two sides also agreed to create what Trump described in a tweet as “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” to ensure that “election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.”

However, the idea drew widespread ridicule and Trump sent out another tweet Sunday night in which he seemed to back off: “The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was among critics of the task force on Twitter and Sunday morning news shows.

“It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close,” Graham said, adding that, when it comes to Russia, the president has “a blind spot.”

“And to forgive and forget when it comes to Putin regarding cyberattacks is to empower Putin and that’s exactly what he’s doing,” he added.

Another Senate Republican, Marco Rubio of Florida, said on Twitter that “partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit.'” Rubio was referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.”

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter equated the move to “like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary.”

And Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said that expecting Russia to be a credible partner in any cybersecurity initiative “would be dangerously naive for this country.”

“If that’s our best election defense, we might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow,” he said.

Haley, however, defended the move, arguing that working with Russia on cybersecurity “doesn’t mean we ever trust Russia. We can’t trust Russia and we won’t ever trust Russia. But you keep those that you don’t trust closer so that you can always keep an eye on ’em and keep them in check.”

Trump also tweeted Sunday that sanctions against Russia were not discussed at his meeting with Putin, seemingly contradicting comments made by Tillerson in Germany. Tillerson told reporters that the president had taken “note of actions that have been discussed by the Congress” in the meeting. Congress has been pushing to increase sanctions on Russia and make them harder for Trump to lift.

Haley and Schiff spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mnuchin on ABC’s “The Week,” Priebus on “Fox News Sunday,” and Graham on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

__

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Kiev, Ukraine.

PHOTO: AP

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19 thoughts on “Trump Meets With Putin, Says U.S. Must Move Past Election

  1. FAR MORE SERIOUS THAN WE REALIZE!! Our Sovereignty is at stake!! far more than we can fathom by virtue of the INVASION by Russia into our Electoral Process…. As such, because the first duty of the President is to secure the Nation is taken lightly by moving-on from the Psychological Invasion of the American People qualifies Trump to be UNFIT to be our Commander In Chief subsequently should be Impeached Yesterday pursuant to the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. America is the Grand Prize to be conquered by Putin is the supreme objective of Putin via our current President as we sleep.

    • jhuf on said:

      HAHAHA half the members of congress could be ousted with that amendment
      Nancy Polosi, Mad Max Watters (you know that the congress woman that not only doesn’t live in her district but her $4.5 million dollar home could probably buy
      All the property of the fools who keep voting her back in office)

      • Diane on said:

        And the ppl who are voting for her knw about everything u mentioned and they still reelect her, even the weathy ppl. She’s not the prez. Your fake prez is in cohost with the Russians.

      • jhuf on said:

        Well Diane I’m sure back in Civics’ class you learned that elected officials
        Are sent to Washington to Speak/Represent those back home who voted for them
        And thus actually have a greater influence (just like state Governors) over the lives of the people in those states/ districts I say that to say this “they are far more important than the president” And thanks I’ll use your argument, the people who voted for The Don knew all about his issues and still thought he was the better choice

      • Theo on said:

        @jhuf: you don’t side with the number one Adversary of America; being Russia, over Americans, though they may be Maxine Waters & other Americans you don’t favor. Did you see how the President was DOTING over Putin? reminded me how my dog reacts when I return home.

      • jhuff on said:

        Theo: Russia our # adversary? it wasn’t last year when Pres Obama knew about meddling last year and did nothing about it, guess he chose to side with a foreign government over America
        as for Trumps behavior around Putin it’s nothing compared to Obama meeting the Saudi king a bowing down to him kind of reminds me of the Beyonce’ song “bow-down bitch’s”

      • Theo on said:

        @jhuff: Obama kissing-up does not give our current President a “green light” to kiss-up too is your rationale…..Arabia is not a threat to us as Russia! I was with our current President til it became too obvious that he is too close to Putin; our #1 adversary-[No Can Do].

  2. The Don WAS Elected president and will remain what is there to linger on???
    Lets see who can’t get past Trumps win, Mad Max Watters, the fake news media who’s flawed polling had Hillary already inaugurated before the Nov voting, as for collusion we know the Obama administration KNEW for a fact that Russia had attempted influencing elections for years AND DID NOTHING (hows that for loyal patriotism) we also know that the ONLY proven influence was that the DNC colluded with the Hillary Champaign to derail Bernie Sanders we can thank the Russians for bringing to light that fact as well as the racist DNC e-mails that led to Debbie Schultz resignation, and let’s not forget the Comey testimony where we found that Loretta Lynch instructed him to down-play Hillary’s investigation (guess we now know what was done in that secret tarmac meeting with Bill “get on your knees woman” Clinton)

    • Diane on said:

      While you’re generating all your facts. What’s the deal with the Donald and his sons meeting with the Russians lawyers before the election?

  3. Chump is the one who needs to move on regarding the 2016 Election.

    Anyone with a brain now knows that Russia hacked into the system and quite possibly changed
    the voting results.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    You’re right Amber, he’s the one who can’t get passed the elections. He even has his cronies trying to pull registered voters’ information in all 50 states which, btw is illegal, just to prove millions of voters voted illegal and Hillary didn’t win the popular vote.
    Willie, you’re on point, #45 is clearly UNFIT to president.

  5. Amber on said:

    Move past election? this is a man who bring up he won 24/7. He is the one who can not get past the election but we are not going to get past the “hacking” who was proven to be done.

  6. Diane on said:

    This fake prez just looks dummer by the day. Once again he got played by the Russians. Putin difinetly has something on this crook. And his son, don Jr is also pathetic.

  7. Sandra McArthur on said:

    Crook to Crook…You you infringe on our constitutional right and just want us to just move on like we a dirt. This is Our Watch..This is Our History and you meddled in it illeagally..Both of you MOVE ON….

  8. Willie on said:

    UNFIT to be President of the United States: It’s a No-brainer that the current President of the U.S. is wholly unfit to be our President, wherein we have numerous Federal Agencies confirming Russia did breach or interfered in our Electoral Process…… Unfit pursuant to the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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