Trump says in a television interview that he's going into the meeting with "low expectations. I hope so. I've been saying it, and I'm sure you've heard over the years, and as I campaigned, that getting along with Russian Federation is good thing, not a bad thing", he said.
In an interview with CBS News that aired before he touched down in Helsinki, Trump admitted that Russian Federation remains a foe, but he put Moscow on a par with China and the European Union as economic and diplomatic rivals.
With Washington and Moscow at loggerheads over Ukraine, Iran and trade tariffs as well as Syria, even Trump has cautioned that he is not approaching the Putin summit "with high expectations".
While Putin has long denied Russian involvement and did so again Monday, the USA intelligence community has long maintained that Russia did, in fact, meddle in the US election, and just three days ago, the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian government agents for hacking the Democratic Party during the 2016 election.
"Russia is an authoritarian regime that has attacked our democracy and continues to undermine the security of the United States and our allies", her statement said. "I actually think it hurts our relationship with a lot of countries".
Against that backdrop and swirling uncertainty about what Trump might do or say next, his summit with Putin, which will include a one-on-one session with the Russian leader with only interpreters present, has both US allies and USA politicians anxious lest he make hasty and sweeping concessions.
"NATO has, I think, never been stronger". "This is a very serious matter".
President Trump has nevertheless faced large criticism ahead of the meeting after branding the European Union a "foe".
"For the president to demand something that isn't going to happen puts the president in a weak position, " he said.More news: Opp’s no-trust motion defeated
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Organizers said the event wasn't aimed at either of the presidents. Trump told reporters last week that he plans to ask Putin about the election interference, but lamented there wasn't much he could do about it besides ask Putin to not do it again. He claimed the Russians also attempted to hack into the Republican National Committee, "but we had much better defenses". Putin has met with three previous USA presidents before Mr. Trump, but there has never been such a private session of this magnitude between Putin and a US leader.
The two leaders finally met at the presidential palace in Helsinki - after the notoriously tardy Putin's flew in at least half an hour late, leaving Trump waiting and delaying the meeting by an hour. "I respect the leaders of those countries", Trump said.
As reported by The Guardian, Trump was asked to name his "biggest foe globally right now".
He told Glor that he "hadn't thought about" asking Putin for the extradition of the Russian agents, but he said he might bring it up.
Standing alongside the Kremlin boss at a joint news conference, Trump acknowledged that his intelligence chiefs believe Russian Federation hacked and leaked Democrats' emails containing politically damaging information about his rival Hillary Clinton in 2016.
"I appreciated your support", Trump said.
Clinton, Trump's Democratic rival, had used a private email server to conduct official business while secretary of State, but deleted many emails before investigators could examine how many contained classified information.
Protests were more visible in Scotland, where the Trumps spent the weekend at a golf resort the president owns in Turnberry.
"If I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russian Federation over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn't good enough - that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!" he tweeted.