Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claims that President Trump questioned Russian President Vladimir Putin about purported meddling in the 2016 election when the two faced-off at the G-20 Summit.
Tillerson reports that Trump and Putin had a “very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject” during their meeting in Germany on Friday, in which Putin repeatedly denied Russia’s involvement.
The face-to-face meeting between the two leaders marked their first in-person exchange.
The highly anticipated meeting was originally touted as a brief interaction on the sidelines of the G-20 summit until it was revealed Thursday by the White House that it was an “expanded meeting” that lasted over two hours.
In fact, Tillerson told reporters the Trump-Putin meeting went so long that First Lady Melania Trump was sent into the meeting by officials halfway through to encourage them to wrap up their meeting, but she was unsuccessful in doing so and the meeting continued.
Before the momentous meeting took place, news outlets speculated that as many as six people would be in the room. However, it was later revealed that in addition to Trump and Putin, the following four people were also in attendance: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and two translators.
While top White House aides remained tight-lipped about what would be discussed in the meeting, several lawmakers were extremely vocal in the days leading up to the meeting, demanding that Trump press Putin over alleged election interferences.
A group of five Democratic senators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sent a letter to Trump on Thursday, giving him a stark warning that if he did not press Putin on the topic, it could result in “a severe dereliction of the duty of the office to which you were elected.”
During a press conference on Thursday, Trump stated that he believed Russia was involved in the cyber campaign but other countries may have also played a role.
“I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries,” Trump said Thursday. “Nobody really knows … Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said Thursday at a press conference in Warsaw.
Trump was later accused of undermining U.S. intelligence agencies by questioning their conclusions while on foreign soil.
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