And in opening remarks before a meeting with Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin listened cheerily to an apparent joke about getting rid of journalists in Russia. “Get rid of them,” Mr. Trump said of reporters. “Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”
Mr. Putin responded that “it’s the same” in Russia. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented the untimely deaths of 58 journalists in Russia in the post-Soviet period, many of them by murder or unexplained accidents.
Despite U.S. findings, Trump’s 2020 warning to Putin came with a grin.
President Trump appeared to make light of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on Friday as he met with President Vladimir V. Putin — seeming to again dismiss the conclusions of American intelligence agencies and the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
At the opening remarks before the leaders’ meeting, a reporter asked whether Mr. Trump would tell Russia not to meddle in American elections. “Yes, of course I will,” he answered.
Turning to Mr. Putin, he said with a slight grin, “Don’t meddle in the election.”
Mr. Putin smiled, and Mr. Trump pointed at another Russian official, repeating, “Don’t meddle in the election.”
The remarks risked another domestic political backlash like the one Mr. Trump endured after the leaders’ last official meeting in Helsinki, Finland, when Mr. Trump, standing at Mr. Putin’s side, challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies about the Russian election operation and credited the Kremlin leader’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial.
Before their meeting on Friday, the presidents said they would discuss trade, arms control and other issues. A written summary of the meeting by the White House indicated that they had spoken about Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine as well — nations where the United States and Russia are at odds — but there was no mention of election interference or an international investigation that pointed to Russia in the 2014 downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine.
Reporting was contributed by Michael Crowley, Peter Baker, Keith Bradsher and Motoko Rich from Osaka, Japan, Jane Perlez from Beijing, Choe Sang-Hun from Seoul, South Korea, Andrew Kramer from Moscow and Ben Casselman from New York.