Russia says Trump accepted Putin’s assurances he didn’t meddle in election; U.S. says not true

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin agree on one aspect of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign: The issue has become a hindrance to better relations.

That’s according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who says the U.S. and Russian presidents had a “robust and lengthy” discussion Friday about the interference, though Putin denied involvement.

Tillerson’s Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, says Trump accepted Putin’s assurances that Russia didn’t meddle in the U.S. election.

That account appears at odds with  Tillerson’s description of the meeting.

Tillerson said the president was “rightly focused on how do we move forward from what may be simply an intractable disagreement at this point.”

U.S. intelligence officials have blamed Russia for election hacking and other efforts to influence the election to help Trump win.

U.S. lawmakers of both parties had demanded that Trump not shy away from the issue in his highly anticipated meeting with Putin. Trump has avoided stating unequivocally in the past that Russia interfered, even as investigations proceed into whether his campaign colluded with Russians who sought to help him win.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says it’s no surprise that Putin is assuring Trump that Moscow didn’t meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Ryan was asked at a news conference about Putin’s comments made during a meeting with Trump on Friday on the sidelines of an international summit in Germany.

Ryan says he’d expect Putin “to deny what clearly he has done over the years, not just with the U.S. election but other elections throughout Europe.”

The Wisconsin Republican says that “it comes as no surprise to me Vladimir Putin would deny what we know they did.”

Ryan repeated that he doesn’t believe Russian interference in the presidential election affected its outcome. But he says that “nevertheless, they tried.”