- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2018

President Trump confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about hacking the U.S. election, and Mr. Putin again denied his country’s involvement.

Mr. Putin also offered to work with the U.S. analyzing the cyber attacks.

Both men said the topic was discussed at their meeting Monday in Helsinki. Mr. Trump said he addressed the issue “directly with President Putin.”

“I felt this was a message best delivered in person, and spent a great deal of time talking about it,” Mr. Trump said at a joint press conference following the summit.

He added cryptically that his Russian counterpart “has an interesting idea” about it.

Mr. Putin said he reiterated to the president, “The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere” in U.S elections.

Asked by a reporter what proof could be offered to exonerate Russia, Mr. Putin challenged the reporter to “name a single fact that proves” Russian involvement.

Mr. Trump had asked him about election meddling at two previous encounters with Mr. Putin, who repeatedly denied Russian involvement.

Mr. Trump was pressured to confront Mr. Putin on the election hacking. The summit came just days after 12 Russian military intelligence officers were indicted for hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 presidential race.

The indictments were the product of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling and alleged Trump campaign collusion.

Asked about extraditing the 12 Russians, Mr. Putin made the startling offer for Mr. Mueller to ask Moscow formally to hold and interrogate them.

“Our law enforcement are perfectly capable of” questioning the Russian military officers and relay the results to the special counsel, Mr. Putin said.

Or, Mr. Putin said, “we can meet you halfway” and allow Mr. Mueller to travel to Russia to observe the questioning of the officers by Russian authorities.

“Options abound,” he said.

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