President Donald Trump previewed his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference on Friday, saying he would “firmly” ask about election meddling but not predicting any confession from his counterpart.
U.S. intelligence services concluded Putin ordered an extensive interference campaign in the 2016 election to benefit Trump against Hillary Clinton. Trump has previously said he didn’t believe Russia interfered, although he’s since walked that back and said “it may be Russia” that did.
“We’ll be talking about other things,” Trump said at his joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May. “I know you’ll ask, ‘Will we be talking about meddling?’ And I will absolutely bring that up. I don’t think you’ll have any, ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me. There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think, but you never know what happens, right? But I will absolutely, firmly ask the question, and hopefully we’ll have a very good relationship with Russia.”
The two leaders are set to meet in Helsinki on Monday.
Trump made similar remarks during a press conference in Belgium on Thursday, saying Putin “may deny it” and all Trump could say was “don’t do it again.”
“Look, he may. What am I going to do? He may deny it,” Trump said. “All I can do is say, ‘Did you?’ And, ‘Don’t do it again.’ But he may deny it.”
Trump also said it would be a “tremendous achievement” if the U.S., Russia, and China could do something on nuclear proliferation.
“We’ll be talking to President Putin about a number of things. Ukraine,” he said. “We’ll be talking about Syria. We’ll be talking about other parts of the Middle East. We’ll be talking about nuclear proliferation … We’ve been modernizing and fixing and buying, and it’s just a devastating technology, and they likewise are doing a lot, and it’s a very, very bad policy.”