The president's equivocation drew bipartisan condemnation, capping a week in which Trump alienated allies and cozied up to adversaries. He will hold talks with the Russian president in Helsinki on Monday.
But the meeting also comes just four days after the Justice Department announced indictments of 12 Russian intelligence agents for a campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.
But asked directly whether he believed that assessment, Trump was noncommittal.
"And with that the world awaits, and I look forward to our personal discussion", Trump added, as the two leaders went into a first session between just themselves and their interpreters. I have President Putin. He says cases like Strzok's hurt relations with Russian Federation and other countries. I will say this.
Ahead of his sit-down with with Putin, who has cracked down on the free press, Trump has continued to unleash a series of attacks on the media, including as Air Force One descended into Helsinki. "The damage inflicted by President Trump's naiveté, egotism, false equivalence and sympathy for autocrats is hard to calculate". Sunday also saw a protest march against the summit in Helsinki, Finland's capital.
Trump began his day with the host of the summit, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russian Federation. Trump ignored those warnings.
Trump and Putin will then hold a working lunch together with their ministers and advisers, followed by a joint press conference. Russia's constitution forbids the extradition of its own citizens. Russian government actors have also targeted businesses, state and local governments, critical infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, he said.
Don't miss out on the latest news and information. He has said he would raise the issue with Putin in their summit but has suggested it would be perfunctory.
Trump quickly added, "If they had it, it would've been out by now".
"Creating safety for Israel is something both Putin and I would like to see very much", Trump said.
This summit will be the third time that both the leaders would meet face-to-face. They met previously on the sidelines of worldwide gatherings in Germany and Vietnam.
Trump Sees No Reason to Believe Russia Behind Election Meddling
The senator also tweeted that he would check the gifted soccer ball for "listening devices and never allow it in the White House". Trump went on to claim the Mueller probe was part of a pattern of "stupidity" that hurt US relations with Russian Federation .
Meanwhile, US first lady Melania Trump said she and her Finnish counterpart had a "good conversation about issues facing our nations". "Nobody there really believes that any good can come out of this summit".
Trump's remarks at the news conference brought swift condemnation from Democrats and Republicans alike.
"Well I think we have a lot of foes". "Russia is foe in certain respects. Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe", the President said. It doesn't mean anything. But that doesn't mean they are bad.
McCain found the juxtaposition jarring.
European Council President Donald Tusk has urged President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and China to work with Europe to avoid trade wars and prevent conflict and chaos. "Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news". Undeterred, the American president is set to go face to face with Mr Putin, the authoritarian leader for whom he has expressed admiration.
Finland has a long legacy of hosting U.S.
"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", Bolton said.
Trump has being criticized by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for his reluctance to condemn Putin and Russian Federation for the meddling.
This resulted in members of the then G8 suspending Russian Federation from the group and introducing the first round of sanctions against the country. The leaders to discuss bilateral ties and various issues on the worldwide agenda.
Aides had warned before the meeting that it might not produce big "deliverables". Russian Ambassador Jon Huntsman said recently that the meeting itself is a deliverable.
Russian President Putin overseeing naval exercises in Russia's Arctic North aboard the nuclear-missile cruiser Peter the Great in 2005.