President Donald Trump thinks it’s time to move on from the pesky fact that Russia tried to meddle in the U.S. presidential elections. In a series of Sunday-morning tweets about his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said it’s “time to move forward in working constructively with Russia.” The president said he “strongly pressed” Putin twice over Russian meddling in the election, and “he vehemently denied it.” Trump didn’t specify whether he accepts the denial, only noting that “I’ve already given my opinion.”
Trump did not explicitly say whether he actually believed Putin, but his tweets suggest the Kremlin may have been correct in its evaluation of the meeting in Germany. “He asked questions; I replied. It seemed to me that he was satisfied with the answers,” Putin said. U.S. officials have not directly disputed that account.
The president has said he believes Russia likely interfered in the election but noted that it was impossible to know for sure and that other countries were likely involved in the hacking as well.
As part of the effort to “move on” in the bilateral relationship, Trump wrote that he and Putin “discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.” Trump also said sanctions weren’t discussed with Putin, because “nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved.”
That plan immediately received pushback from Trump’s own party, with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also taking to Twitter to mock the suggestion that the United States could partner with Russia on cybersecurity. “Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit,’ ” Rubio wrote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham also mocked the partnership suggestion. “It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close,” Graham said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Trump also used his Sunday-morning tweetstorm to again blast one of his favorite targets: the Democratic National Committee. “Questions were asked about why the CIA & FBI had to ask the DNC 13 times for their SERVER, and were rejected, still don’t have it,” Trump wrote. “Fake News said 17 intel agencies when actually 4 (had to apologize). Why did Obama do NOTHING when he had info before election?” In other words, Trump is saying both that the intelligence that Russia meddled in the election isn’t as reliable as has been reported and also that his predecessor had the intelligence and didn’t act on it.