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President Donald Trump on Friday assured reporters that he'll bring up the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 election during his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that he will “absolutely, firmly ask the question” while stressing that he doesn't expect much from Putin's response.
During a joint press conference with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump listed several potential topics of discussion with Putin, who he plans to meet in Helsinki on Monday during his visit to Europe.
When asked what he hopes to accomplish by the summit with Putin, Trump said he'd discuss Russian involvement in Ukraine and Syria and nuclear proliferation — which he called a “devastating technology” — before telling reporters what they really wanted to know.
“I know you’ll ask will we be talking about meddling and I will absolutely bring that up. I don’t think you will have any, 'Gee, I did it, you got me.' There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think,” Trump said, referring to the famous courtroom drama TV show.
.@POTUS on Putin meeting: “Will we be talking about meddling? I will absolutely bring that up. I don't think you'll have any, 'Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me.' There won't be a Perry Mason here I don't think.” pic.twitter.com/SPl84qfShR
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 13, 2018
The Trump administration has been unclear up until this point about whether the president will confront Putin about Russian meddling in U.S. elections, an issue Trump is often reluctant to address considering the special counsel investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia.
“But you never know what happens, right? But I will absolutely, firmly ask the question. And hopefully, we’ll have a very good relationship with Russia,” Trump concluded.
During the NATO summit earlier this week, Trump was critical of Germany and other members of the alliance for “making Russia richer” by buying Russian oil and gas.
But he's often been slow to acknowledge Russian wrongdoing in the election, calling the Russia investigation a “Witch Hunt” and frequently criticizing U.S. officials working on the case.
Trump stressed that he'd like to have a good relationship with Putin, and he discussed the prospect of friendship with the Russian president during his press conference in the U.K., where multiple British citizens were the victims of nerve agent attacks suspected to have been perpetrated by Russia.
As Trump gears up for his summit with Putin, all eyes will be on whether any concessions can be extracted from the Russian president concerning election meddling, despite Trump's suggestion that we shouldn't get our hopes up.