As President Donald Trump was leaving the 2017 G-20 summit in Germany, he called a New York Times reporter from Air Force One and complained that accusations of Russian election interference were false, according to a Tuesday report by the Times.
Trump’s call came after he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had enjoyed a two-hour meeting, with only then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov, and interpreters present.
The president reportedly confiscated his interpreters notes after the meeting, with further instruction not to brief anyone, the Times said.
The day after the two meetings, as Mr. Trump was on Air Force One taking off from Germany heading back to Washington, he telephoned a Times reporter and argued that the Russians were falsely accused of election interference. While he insisted most of the conversation be off the record, he later repeated a few things in public in little-noticed asides.
He said that he raised the election hacking three times and that Mr. Putin denied involvement. But he said Mr. Putin also told him that “if we did, we wouldn’t have gotten caught because we’re professionals.” Mr. Trump said: “I thought that was a good point because they are some of the best in the world” at hacking.