President Donald Trump greeted Russian President Vladimir Putin with a smile Friday as he told him not to interfere in the U.S. elections. The president made the statement during a sit-in with Putin at the G20 Osaka Summit. Trump was asked by reporters whether he would tell Putin to not meddle in the 2020 presidential elections, especially after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections.
Trump responded to the question with: "Yes, of course, I will" as he told the Russian president: "Don't meddle in the election, please" while beaming at the Moscow leader in a room packed with journalists. The president, after his meeting with Putin, said: "We've had great meetings. We've had [a] very, very good relationship. And we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things going to come out of the relationship. So Vladimir, thank you very much."
Putin, during the meeting, spoke Russian and through a translator said: "We haven't seen each other since Helsinki meeting." The Kremlin leader was referring to the summit where Trump was heavily criticized at home for accepting Putin's denial of interference in the 2016 elections. "President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be," Trump said at the time, causing a stir in the U.S.
President Trump, earlier this month, had drawn flak after he told ABC News that he would accept an offer of opposition research by Russia or another foreign power during a campaign. "They have information — I think I'd take it", Trump said, and would only call the FBI "if I thought there was something wrong."
As the reporters present in the room jostled during Friday's meeting, Trump took a dig at the media as he spoke to Putin saying: "Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn't it?" According to a Bloomberg pool reporter present in the room, Trump said, "You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do." Putin responded to Trump in English, saying: “Yes, yes we have too. The same.”
The U.S. President compared the media's interest in his meeting with Putin to that of the Oscars, "Like the Academy Awards used to be," Trump quipped. The Russian foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov that the Russian leader also invited Trump to visit Russia in May to mark the USSR's victory over the Nazis. Trump reportedly responded to the invitation in a "very positive manner," according to Russia 24 news channel, the Daily Mail reported.
Relations between the United States and Russia have been on rocky grounds amid their differences over Syria, Ukraine and the Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Trump, on Friday, also met with a string of leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.