WATCH: Trump Tells Putin Not To Meddle In The 2020 Election; Dems, Media Erupt
After the two presidents made some brief comments about the goals of their upcoming meeting at the G-20 Summit on Friday, President Donald Trump turned to Russian President Vladimir Putin and told him jokingly, “Don’t meddle in the election.” The moment has sparked strong reaction from Trump’s critics.
The comment came during an initial meeting among Russian and American dignitaries at the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on Friday. Trump offered a brief summary of the key topics he planned to discuss with his Russian counterpart in their upcoming private meeting. Putin followed up with an even briefer summary. When reporters asked Trump if he planned to warn Russia against election meddling — as U.S. intelligence concluded occurred in 2016 — Trump responded by turning to Putin and giving him a mock mini-lecture.
The two presidents were seated next to each other in a conference room in which representatives from both sides, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, were seated on either side of the room. After some cross talk in the room, Trump addressed reporters.
“It’s a great honor to be with President Putin,” he said, in comments reported by the New York Post (video below). “We have many things to discuss, including trade, and including some disarmament, a little protectionism, perhaps, in a very positive way. We’ve had great meetings, we have had very very good relationship, and we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things are going to come out of the relationship. So Vladimir, thank you very much.”
After the translator finished giving Trump’s comments in Russian, Putin responded. “I do not but agree with Mr. President: We have something to discuss here.”
Putin’s concise statement completed, reporters began asking questions, including one directed to Trump: “Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the election?”
“Of course I will,” said Trump. “Don’t meddle in the election, president,” he said, turning to Putin with a smirk. “Don’t meddle in the election,” he repeated, pointing his finger.
The line got a chuckle out of Putin.
As Fox News notes, the Associated Press described the moment as an exchange that “would seem to do little to silence questions about Trump’s relationship with Russia in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that his campaign did not collude with Russia in 2016.”
One of those questioning Trump’s relationship with Russia is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who promptly accused the president of giving Putin “a green light to interfere in 2020.”
“President [Donald Trump] is joking with Putin about interfering in our elections, but the joke is on us and Putin’s the only one laughing,” Schumer tweeted Friday. “President Trump is basically giving Putin a green light to interfere in 2020.”
CNN also decried Trump’s actions, Chris Cillizza penning a piece excoriating Trump for making “a total mockery of Russia’s election interference”:
Are. You. Kidding. Me.
The dismissiveness is dripping in Trump’s comment. You want me to say the little thing to the nice man? I’ll say it. You happy now? (Pats collective media on head).
He wants the media — and everyone watching — to know that he’s just going through the motions, that he doesn’t really believe that he needs to tell Putin not to involved Russia in future elections. He’s checking a box, in the most sarcastic way possible.
Fox News provided a more even-handed retake: “Trump’s supporters will likely say the reporter’s question was awkward and the serious discussion should not play out in the public eye. Trump’s critics will likely conclude that he refuses to see the seriousness of defending U.S. elections from a foreign government, hence his offhanded response.”
Below is the footage published by AP followed by Fox News’ lengthier cut of the raw footage: