Russian President Vladimir Putin told a room full of U.S. and Russian reporters that he wanted Donald Trump to win the presidency in 2016 – and Trump said he believed Putin’s denials of interfering in the race – in just two of the many revelations in a joint press conference that only fueled the spectacle of the Russia story.
‘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,’ Trump said, speaking to reporters about Russian election meddling as he stood side-by-side with the man U.S. intelligence says ordered it.
‘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,’ Trump said after meeting with Putin in Helsinki in a controversial summit.
Trump hailed a new thaw in U.S.-Russia relations has already begun following a two-hour private meeting between the two men – and then fired repeatedly at the Mueller probe and Democratic rivals in a whirling display that immediately overshadowed any substantive talks the leaders held.
In a bizarre press conference, Putin denied having compromising information on Trump – even as he touted his own spy skills. And Trump denied the infamous dirty dossier by saying if the dirt were real it would have come out already.
‘And now to the compromising material …’ Putin, a former KGB colonel responded when asked if the Russians hold compromising leverage over Trump.
‘I do know how dossiers are made up,’ Putin joked, referring to his past as he introduced the subject of Russian intelligence files.
But Trump was having none of it – at a press conference where he demanded someone find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails, pointed to a server associated with a House Democratic staffer, and accepted a soccer ball from Putin after congratulating the Russian team’s performance at the World Cup.
‘And I have to say if they had it, it would have been out long ago,’ Trump interjected, referencing unverified claims in the Steele dossier about his conduct in a Moscow hotel room during the Miss Universe Pageant before he was president.
During his answer on election interference, Putin appeared to question whether Truth can even be established on such a matter. ‘Who is to be believed and who is not to be believed? You can trust no one.’
Trump declared the U.S.-Russia relationship on the mend – coming off a NATO trip where he attacked traditional allies Germany and the European Union.
‘Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However that changed as of about four hours ago,’ the president told a packed room of reporters in Helsinki at his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The men met one-on-one, with no notetaker or staff, before a larger meeting with staff.
Trump raised the hot issue of Russian interference in the presidential election, both presidents confirmed, as Trump had telegraphed in advance.
Putin, addressing reporters first, referred to it as ‘so-called interference.’
‘I had to reiterate things I said several times,’ Putin said, summarizing the conversation that jumped high up on the agenda after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian spies for hacking Democrats in a conspiracy that according to the feds was carried out to dump unflattering material on the Internet and help Trump.
‘The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal am affairs including election process,’ Putin said, denying it.
‘We have both made some mistakes,’ Trump said later on election interference.
Then Trump rained fire on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, which has led to guilty pleas by several associates but that Trump regularly brands a ‘witch hunt.’
‘The probe is a disaster for our country,’ The president said.
‘There was no collusion at all,’ Trump said, returning to his denial. He said he ‘beat Hillary Clinton easily.
‘Zero collusion – and it has had a negative impact on the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world,’ Trump said. ‘It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.’
In his dismissal of the claims of the Dossier, Putin maintained he had no idea Trump was traveling to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant in 2014.
‘Yeah, I did hear these rumors that these allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow.,’ he said, when asked if he had anything on Trump.
‘Distinguished colleague, let me tell you this, when President Trump was in Moscow back then, I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect, but back then when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow,’ Putin claimed.
Then he continued: ‘Let’s take St. Petersburg economic forum, for instance. There were over 500 American businessmen, high ranking, high level ones. I don’t even remember the last names of each an every one. Do you think that we try to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them? Well, it’s difficult to imagine on a bigger scale of this. Please disregard these issues and don’t think about this anymore again.’
But according to ‘Russian Roulette’ by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, called Trump to apologize that Putin couldn’t attend the pageant when it happened, and sent Trump a gift.
The account was seconded by music publicist Rob Goldstone, who says he was there along with his client Emin Agalorov, both of whom helped set up a 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower.
‘I know because I was there!’ Goldstone tweeted Monday.
Putin referenced a joint-agreement between the U.S. and Russia, and threw out an idea for Mueller, when asked if he would consider extraditing 12 Russians spies accused of hacking the election.
He said Mueller could ‘send a formal and official request’ and that Russia’s own law enforcement would interrogate the alleged hackers, mostly intelligence officers in the G.R.U.
‘Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit official representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can lead them into the country and they will be present for this questioning,’ Putin said.
Trump called it ‘an incredible offer.’
But the Putin proposed ‘another condition.’
He brought up William Browder, a financier who crusaded for the Magnitsky Act, which slaps sanctions on Russians, following the death in prison of his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky after uncovering an alleged ponzi scheme.
‘For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over one and a half billion dollars in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russian army in the United States and yet the money escaped the country, they were transferred to the United States,’ Putin said.
‘They sent huge amount of money – $400 million – as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton,’ he claimed.
Trump said he found Putin’s denial ‘powerful,’ as he lashed out in all directions and talked about Democratic servers he said couldn’t be located.
‘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. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC?’ Trump fumed.
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Source: Daily Mail