“President Trump is basically giving Putin a green light to interfere in 2020.”

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attend their bilateral meeting at the G20 Osaka Summit 2019, in Osaka, Japan, June,28,2019.

Source: James Barrett

After the two presidents made some brief comments about the goals of their upcoming meeting at the G-20 Summit on Friday, President Donald Trump turned to Russian President Vladimir Putin and told him jokingly, “Don’t meddle in the election.” The moment has sparked strong reaction from Trump’s critics.

The comment came during an initial meeting among Russian and American dignitaries at the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on Friday. Trump offered a brief summary of the key topics he planned to discuss with his Russian counterpart in their upcoming private meeting. Putin followed up with an even briefer summary. When reporters asked Trump if he planned to warn Russia against election meddling — as U.S. intelligence concluded occurred in 2016 — Trump responded by turning to Putin and giving him a mock mini-lecture.

The two presidents were seated next to each other in a conference room in which representatives from both sides, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, were seated on either side of the room. After some cross talk in the room, Trump addressed reporters.

“It’s a great honor to be with President Putin,” he said, in comments reported by the New York Post (video below). “We have many things to discuss, including trade, and including some disarmament, a little protectionism, perhaps, in a very positive way. We’ve had great meetings, we have had very very good relationship, and we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things are going to come out of the relationship. So Vladimir, thank you very, much.”

After the translator finished giving Trump’s comments in Russian, Putin responded. “I do not but agree with Mr. President: We have something to discuss here.”

Putin’s concise statement completed, reporters began asking questions, including one directed to Trump: “Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the election?”

“Of course I will,” said Trump. “Don’t meddle in the election, president,” he said, turning to Putin with a smirk. “Don’t meddle in the election,” he repeated, pointing his finger.

The line got a chuckle out of Putin.

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