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Trump: Putin said Russia didn't meddle in 2016 election

By Sam Howard
Trump: Putin said Russia didn't meddle in 2016 election
President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) pose for a group picture with fellow APEC leaders and their spouses during the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam. Photo by EPA-EFE/Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool

Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday, President Donald Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin told him that Russia did not interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

"He said he didn't meddle," Trump said, as reported in the Washington Post. "I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. ... He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did."

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Trump said he believes his Russian counterpart, but Putin's comments contradict conclusions by members of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered with the 2016 campaign, specifically by stealing thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee.

"Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that,'" Trump said, as reported by CNN. "And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it."

The two leaders met informally at least three times during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. Prior to the summit, press secretary Sarah Sanders said Putin and Trump are "going to be in the same place. Are they going to bump into each other and say hello? Certainly possible and likely."

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Trump and Putin also agreed to release a joint statement about the two nations' involvement in the Syrian civil war. They reaffirmed a pact to "maintain open military channels of communications" as an effort to defeat the Islamic State.

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