Dueling Accounts Emerge Over Trump and Putin’s Discussions on Russian Election Interference

President Donald Trump faced off with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a bilateral meeting running more than two hours at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on Friday. The pair reportedly discussed election meddling, as well as Russian involvement in Ukraine and Syria.

In the wake of their meeting, two dueling narratives emerged from officials regarding Putin and Trump’s discussion of possible Russian interference in the American election.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was first out the gate, claiming Trump had “accepted” statements from Putin that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 election:

Trump reportedly kicked off the meeting by asking Putin about the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin waged an extensive campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, a conclusion Putin has rejected before and denied in the meeting.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indirectly pushed back on Lavrov’s framing, telling reporters after the meeting that Trump had “pressed” Putin over Russian interference, but that the two leaders did not come to any agreement:

So it appears both sides are trying to paint different pictures of the conversation: where the Russian foreign minister claims Trump accepted Putin’s statement, Tillerson makes the argument that since there was no agreement between the two leaders, “there was no use relitigating the past,” and they chose to move on.

Tillerson also said that Russian officials asked for proof of Russian interference after the meeting:

U.S. intelligence agencies did not conclude that Russian actors ever hacked the election itself, but that the Kremlin directed the hacking of the DNC and emails of Hillary Clinton campaign staffers, in order to sabotage her campaign. The NSA also believes Russia tried to hack into voting systems days before the election, but there is no evidence such attempts were successful.

Trump has repeatedly declined to firmly condemn the Kremlin for what U.S. intelligence has concluded amounts to interference in the election, and has even raised doubts Russia was behind the cyberattacks.

[image via screengrab]

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