President Donald Trump held a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their summit in Helsinki, Finland. Here are four highlights when they were asked about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
1. Trump doubles down on his belief that the U.S. is to blame for U.S.-Russian relations souring.
Trump tweeted earlier:
Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
He doubled down on that belief during the press conference.
“I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame,” Trump said responding to a question from Jeff Manson of Reuters.
“But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the (Mueller) probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart, it’s kept us separated,” he added.
2. Trump emphasizes there was no collusion, but downplays Russian interference.
Trump also said to Manson:
There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore. So far that I know, virtually, none of it related to the campaign. They will have to try really hard to find something that did relate to the campaign. That was a clean campaign.
I beat Hillary Clinton easily and, frankly, we beat her. And I’m not even saying from the standpoint — we won that race. It’s a shame there could be a cloud over it. People know that. People understand it. The main thing — and we discussed this also — is zero collusion. It has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries.
It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.
In a follow-up question, Trump added, “But, just to say it one time again and I say it all the time, there was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to colluded with. There was no collusion with the campaign.”
3. Putin says he was sympathetic toward Trump during the election.
Putin answering a follow-up question from Manson said through an interpreter:
President Trump, when he was a candidate, he mentioned the need to restore the Russia/US relationship and it’s clear that certain parts of American society felt sympathetic about it and different people could express their sympathy in different ways. Isn’t that natural? Isn’t it natural to be sympathetic towards a person who is willing to restore the relationship with our country, who wants to work with us?
4. Trump appears to believe Russia over U.S. Intelligence.
Responding to a question from an Associated Press reporter who asked, “
So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?
I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others and said they think it’s Russia.
I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server.
“So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that president Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators, with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer,” Trump added.
Watch the entire press conference below: