Trump: Putin 'insulted' by meddling accusation
President Donald Trump said Russia's Vladimir Putin has once again vehemently denied interfering in the 2016 US elections during their discussions on the sidelines of an economic summit yesterday.
"He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did," Trump said of Putin, speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One as he travelled to Hanoi, the second-to-last stop of his Asia trip.
"Every time he sees me, he said: 'I didn't do that.' And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it," Trump said, noting that Putin is "very insulted" by the accusation.
Trump called the allegation an "artificial barrier" erected by Democrats - once again casting doubt on the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russia tried to interfere in the election to help Trump win.
Trump and Putin didn't have a formal meeting while they were in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, but the two spoke informally several times on the event's sidelines and reached an agreement on a number of principles for the future of war-torn Syria.
But Trump made clear that the issue of Russian meddling in the election hovers over the leaders' relationship, and said it jeopardised their ability to work together on issues including North Korea's escalating nuclear programme and the deadly conflict in Syria.
"Having a good relationship with Russia's a great, great thing. And this artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way," Trump told reporters. "People will die because of it."