‘Don't meddle in the election, please,’ Trump tells Putin

(From L to R) Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, US President Donald Trump, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, EU Council President Donald Tusk, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and Senegal's President Macky Sall take their positions for a group photo of members at the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. (AFP photo)

US President Donald Trump has told Russian President Vladimir Putin not to “meddle” in American elections, apparently making light of the allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump and Putin exchanged pleasantries on Friday before a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

When a reporter asked Trump about warning Putin "not to meddle" in the 2020 election, he replied: "Yes, of course, I will", drawing a laugh from the Russian leader.

Trump then pointed a finger at Trump and said twice: "Don't meddle in the election, please.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. (AFP photo)

Trump's opponents have accused him of being friendly with Putin during the previous meetings and censured him for confronting the Russian leader over the election-meddling allegations.

US intelligence agencies have claimed Moscow meddled in the election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Trump.

US special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, had been examining since May 2017 whether Trump’s election campaign colluded with Moscow to try to influence the 2016 presidential election and whether he later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation.

Both Trump and Russia have repeatedly denied the accusations. Trump has sought to discredit the investigation, calling it a “witch hunt” and accusing Mueller of conflicts of interest.

On March 22, Mueller submitted his confidential report to US Attorney General William Barr, triggering calls from lawmakers in Congress for the document’s quick release.

A redacted version of Mueller's report published in April did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump aids and Moscow to sway the outcome of the election.

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