It was no surprise to anyone that Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit after insisting that he wouldn’t. What did come as a surprise is Trump’s Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ answers to questions about Russian election interference.
Defense Sec. Mattis says Putin tried to “muck around” in U.S. elections last month. @Acosta: “That’s pretty striking given the fact that just before those midterms, … Trump admin officials were trying to downplay this notion." https://t.co/TVniMqt2ou pic.twitter.com/gZsSpXYQfU
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) December 1, 2018
On Saturday, while Trump had “an informal meeting” with Putin, Mattis appeared at the Reagan National Library in Simi Valley, California. He answered questions from reporters, including CNN’s Jim Acosta.
CNN reports that Mattis answered questions about Russia by saying that efforts to interfere in U.S. elections continue.
‘(Putin) tried again to muck around in our elections this last month, and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines.’
The statement from Mattis is notable considering that the president still wavers in acknowledging that the Kremlin interfered on his behalf. Mattis did not waver at all.
‘Mattis said he didn’t know if the threat from Russia had increased, but he said Russian President Vladimir Putin has “continued efforts to try to subvert democratic processes that must be defended,”
‘”We’ll do whatever is necessary to defend them,” Mattis later added.’
Trump, whose business ties to Russia were exposed on Thursday after repeated denials, cancelled a scheduled meeting with Putin before leaving for Argentina. He insisted at the time that he was canceling due to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
‘Trump said in a tweet that he canceled the meeting because of Russia’s refusal to release Ukrainian navy ships and sailors seized during a maritime confrontation between the two countries.’
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had an "informal conversation" at Friday night's dinner during the G20 summit, the White House says https://t.co/7jLmyynp0H pic.twitter.com/UWqioce9ZO
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 1, 2018
The White House issued a statement downplaying Trump’s decision to meet “informally” anyway after the Kremlin issued their own statement saying that they had “summoned” Trump to do so.
‘As is typical at multilateral events, President Trump and the first lady had a number of informal conversations with world leaders at the dinner last night, including President Putin.’
Featured image screenshot via YouTube