Trump Says 'No Reason To Believe' Russia Hacked US Election

Anderson Cooper

"I think it's kept us apart, it's kept us separated".

"I think this is the beginning of the path. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be".

Earlier Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that Trump's performance in Helsinki "proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially, or politically". He added: "There are quite a few of them for us to pay attention to".

The two leaders began their highly anticipated meeting with a 90-minute one-on-one session, with only their respective translators in attendance. The White House wouldn't immediately confirm the timing. They met on the sidelines of world leader meetings in Germany and Vietnam previous year.

Asked whether he believed Putin or U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian election meddling, Trump did not hesitate to back Putin.

The president has sought to place blame for the Russian interference in the 2016 election on Obama and the Democrats.

Trump's appearance drew an avalanche of backlash from both parties in Washington, with some United States officials going so far as to condemn his remarks as "treasonous".

He also continued to blame his predecessor, Barack Obama, for failing to stop Russia's efforts to sway the 2016 election in his favour, claiming that when Obama "was informed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Russian meddling, he said it couldn't happen, was no big deal, and did nothing about it".

The Russian President dismissed the issue as "nonsense", but it was his answer that was nonsensical. At one point, he shot Putin a wink. Trump may be ready to forget the past - a past that includes the unlawful annexation of Crimea, war against Ukraine, and election meddling - and welcome Putin back into the community of respectable nations.

- Trump and Putin agreed there was no collusion. They may underline the importance of continuing the discussions, setting the stage for discussions on expert level. They'll conclude the summit by taking questions at a joint news conference.

Other activist groups are making their message heard across Helsinki as well.

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President Trump on Monday decried Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as a "phony, witch hunt deal" driving the USA and Russian Federation apart. The drama was playing out against a backdrop of fraying Western alliances, a new peak in the Russian Federation investigation and fears that Moscow's aggression may go unchallenged.

Trump has shifted away from his predecessor Barack Obama's policy of demanding the ouster of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, a position the US adopted before Russian Federation intervened militarily in late 2015 to turn the tide of the civil war in Assad's favor with Iran's help.

Both leaders lauded the meeting in Helsinki as an opportunity for improving bilateral relations, arguing that improved dialogue was necessary for both countries. Putin did not hesitate, when asked directly, to acknowledge he was hoping that Trump would be elected.

Democratic California Representative Jimmy Gomez charged: "To side with Putin over U.S. intelligence is disgusting; to fail to defend the USA is on the verge of treason".

Republicans described Trump's performance as "shameful", "an absolute disgrace", and "moronic". Two held up a handwritten banner that read "God Bless D & M Trump". I go in with very low expectations.

Anyone who knows anything about global politics knows the "extremely strong and powerful" denial of a dictator overrides the collective conclusions of USA intelligence officials.

While both Putin and Trump spoke about the need to discuss arms control issues, they are unlikely to make any quick deals. Not mentioned: Election meddling or Syria.

Russia's foreign ministry tweeted in response: "We agree".

- Trump opened by saying, "Our relationship has never been worse than it is now". He claimed Obama "was informed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Russian Meddling, he said it couldn't happen, was no big deal, & did NOTHING about it".

Rep. Darrell Issa of California he takes the charges filed by Mueller's team seriously, but added, "I personally would neither rule in nor rule out the validity of a very interesting and odd-timed indictment of people who can never be brought to justice".

Browder, who recently called Putin a "pipsqueak" on "Countdown to the Closing Bell," said the Russian president has so much disdain toward the Magnitsky Act that it has propelled him to insert Browder as part of the conversation with the leader of the free world.

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