President Donald Trump refused to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“I hold both countries responsible,” Trump said during a news conference Monday when asked whether he held Russia accountable for anything in particular.
“I think the United States has been foolish,” he said following a bilateral summit between the two leaders in Helsinki, Finland. “I think we’ve all been foolish. I think we’re all to blame.”
He repeated a phrase he often uses ― that there has been no collusion ― and said accusations of collusion continue to hurt relations between the two countries.
“My people came to me they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said in reference to hacking in the U.S. election. “President Putin just said it’s not Russia.”
Trump said he has reason to believe Putin but also said it’s important to find the server that the FBI took from the Democratic National Committee.
Putin also deflected questioning about election interference, responding to a reporter’s question with another question: “Could you name a single fact that would definitively prove the collusion? I don’t see any reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election.”
He also denied knowing about the 12 Russian officers indicted Friday as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
“Trump mentioned this issue and I will look into it,” he said.
The two leaders spent the rest of the press conference discussing arenas in which they can enhance international cooperation, including nuclear nonproliferation and the ongoing civil war in Syria.
Things got off to a rocky start as a man who received press accreditation from The Nation was forcibly removed from the room before the news conference began.
Trump had slammed U.S.-Russian relations as the worst they’ve ever been in the days leading up to the summit. He also said he thought his meeting with Putin might be the easiest of all the talks with European leaders he’s held in the past week.
As if expecting that election meddling would come up, Trump unleashed a Twitter tirade Monday morning with some of his most common talking points: that the investigation into collusion is a ” witch hunt ” and President Barack Obama is to blame for inaction surrounding Russian involvement.