President Donald Trump appeared to make light of threats to US elections on Friday, sarcastically warning Russian President Vladimir Putin not to interfere in future elections after a reporter asked if he would discuss the issue with Putin during their G-20 meeting.
“Don’t meddle in the election, please,” Trump said, jokingly wagging his finger at Putin, as the two leaders appeared before reporters in Japan. “Don’t meddle in the election.”
It was the latest example of the president openly belittling the US intelligence community’s unequivocal conclusion that Russia had carried out a broad disinformation campaign targeting American voters during the 2016 election. Trump’s continued embrace of Putin came in stark contrast to the president’s 2020 Democratic rivals, many of whom have introduced sweeping plans to protect future elections from foreign interference, as Sen. Mitch McConnell refuses to put any legislation on the issue to a vote.
Prompted by a reporter's question, Trump tells Putin: "Don’t meddle in the election, please."
— Bloomberg (@business) June 28, 2019
Trump further bonded with his Russian counterpart by complaining about “fake news” journalists.
“Get rid of them,” he said. “Fake news is a great term, isn’t it. You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”
“We also have,” Putin assured Trump. “It’s the same.”
A subsequent White House readout on their meeting said that the two leaders were in agreement that improved relations between the United States and Russia would be mutually beneficial. Just as he has done during previous major international summits, including the G-20, Trump this week spent considerable time lashing out at America’s allies, including this year’s host country, Japan.