- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 8, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that he thinks he convinced President Trump that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

Russian meddling in the election was the first thing Mr. Trump bought up when he two leaders had their first face-to-face meeting Friday, and Mr. Putin repeated his denials that Moscow was involved.

“He asked many questions on that subject. I answered those questions as best I could,” said Mr. Putin. “I think he took it into consideration and agreed with me, but you should really ask him how he feels about it.”

Mr. Putin gave his assessment of Mr. Trump’s reaction at a press conference in Hamburg, Germany.

The meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, German, was overshadowed by Russian interference in the election and unsubstantiated allegations of Trump campaign collusion.

Mr. Trump has been criticized for expressing doubt about Russian interference in the election, although several U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russia was responsible. Mr. Trump said Thursday that he believed Russia was involved but that other countries or individuals could also have been involved.

The interference included the spread of disinformation during the campaign. The most prominent meddling, however, was hacking into email at the Democratic National Committee and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign officials, exposing embarrassing information.

There has been no evidence that the efforts impacted the outcome of the election, but Democrats have pointed to Russian interference to delegitimize the Trump presidency.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who attended the meeting, said Mr. Trump opened the discussion by pressing Mr. Putin about election interference and “a very robust and lengthy exchange” ensued.

“The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement,” he said.

At the highly anticipated sit-down, which was scheduled for 30 minutes but lasted for 2 hours and 15 minutes, the two leaders also discussed a Syrian cease-fire agreement, Russia’s disputed annexation of Crimea and the fight against ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism.

Mr. Putin said at the press conference the believed that he and Mr. Trump could cooperate on a range of issues.

“As for personal relations, I think that they are established,” said Mr. Putin. “I think that if we continue building our relations like during our conversation yesterday, there are grounds to believe that we’ll be able to — at least partially — restore the level of cooperation that we need.”

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Corrected from earlier to remove reference to RT. Mr. Putin delivered his remarks at a press conference, not in an interview with the Russian news network.

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