President Trump said he “hadn’t thought” of asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to turn over a dozen of his spies indicted for election meddling when the two leaders meet Monday — even as Trump’s national security adviser said it’s “hard to believe” Putin didn’t know what the Russian agents were up to.
Trump arrived in Helsinki, Finland, Sunday for the hotly anticipated sitdown with Putin, with whom he’ll meet with no other U.S. officials or aides present. On Friday, 12 Russian intelligence officials were charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee’s servers during the 2016 presidential election and stealing emails.
“I might,” Trump told CBS News in an interview that aired Sunday when asked whether he would push Putin to extradite the agents. “I hadn’t thought of that. But certainly I’ll be asking about it.”
Ahead of his meeting with the leader of Russia — where journalists who alienate the powerful have often been murdered — Trump again labeled the press “the enemy of the people.”
“Heading to Helsinki, Finland – looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow. Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia … over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough – that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!" he wrote on Twitter. “Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people.”
Many Democrats called on Trump to cancel the Putin meeting after the indictment, but Trump said it wouldn’t hurt to have the meeting even though he’s going in with “very low expectations.”
National security adviser John Bolton said it’s unlikely Putin did not know that the Russian agents were hacking during the election.
“I find it hard to believe,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “But that’s what one of the purposes of this meeting is — so the President can see eye to eye with President Putin and ask him about it.”
While Trump left the door open to asking Putin about extraditing the hackers, Bolton all but ruled it out. The United States and Russia do not have an extradition treaty.
“It’s pretty silly for the President to demand something that he can’t get legally,” he said.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said there was little chance Trump would stand firm in confronting Putin.
“It just belies common sense that the President of the United States, this President, is going to sit down across from Putin and press him hard on the issue of Russian meddling,” he said on “This Week.”