U.S. President Donald Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin told him he did not participate in any meddling during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Trump and Putin spoke at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam on Nov. 11, CNN reported. There, Trump said he spoke with the Russian president about election meddling.
“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters while aboard Air Force One.
"Every time he sees me, he says: 'I didn't do that,'" Trump added. "And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. I think he is very insulted by it."
The president went on to once again state that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.
"There was no collusion. Everybody knows there was no collusion," Trump said. "I think it's a shame that something like that could destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are really important countries."
Trump added that he believes Putin and himself "have the potential to have a very, very good relationship."
"You are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine," Trump explained. "I can't stand there and argue with him. I'd rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I'd rather have him, you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing."
Trump then took to Twitter to continue to insist that a good relationship with Russia could benefit the U.S.
"When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing," Trump tweeted. "There always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!"
Putin’s press secretary Dmitri Pesko initially denied reports that Trump and Putin discussed election meddling. He later changed his position.
"Putin told Trump these reports have no ground and categorically rejected even the hypothetical possibility that Russia could somehow interfere in the election process," Peskov said.
Trump also later backed off the statements he made while aboard Air Force One regarding Putin.
"I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election," Trump said during a joint press briefing in Hanoi, Vietnam on Nov. 12. "As to whether I believe it or not, I am with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with the leadership. I believe that our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies, I work with them very strongly ... As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies."