Smiling Trump tells Putin: 'Don't meddle in the election'

OSAKA, Japan — Under pressure to stand firm against Russian election meddling, President Donald Trump touted his “very, very good relationship” with President Vladimir Putin on Friday before telling Putin with a smile: “Don’t meddle in the election.”

Trump’s meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Japan was their first since an infamous summit last year in Helsinki, which left lawmakers of both parties aghast at the president’s coziness with Putin and willingness to side with him against the U.S. intelligence community.

As the 2020 election approaches, Trump has been under increasing pressure publicly put Putin on notice that the U.S. won’t tolerate election interference again.

As they sat together in Osaka, Trump didn’t broach the topic, instead relishing in the attention of reporters and camera crews eagerly capturing every moment between the leaders of the two former Cold War foes.

“It’s like the Academy Awards,” Trump said to the Russian president. Then he called it a “great honor” to be with Putin, praising their “very, very good relationship” and predicting “a lot of very positive things” would result.