As the two sat next to each for a meeting and media opportunity, a reporter asked Trump if he would tell Putin not to meddle in the upcoming U.S. election as Russia had done in 2016.
“Don’t meddle in the election,” Trump, smiling, said to Putin, then wagged a finger and repeated it. “Don’t meddle in the election.”
Putin laughed, as did Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was seated near Trump.
Trump infamously defended Russia and Putin from allegations of meddling in the 2016 election during a disastrous joint news conference in Helsinki last year.
“I hold both countries responsible,” Trump said at the time. “I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.”
Asked to denounce Russian interference, Trump instead said Putin told him Moscow didn’t do it.
“I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Later he tried to walk back those comments and claimed he meant to say “wouldn’t be.”
Putin has denied it.