Trump Presses Putin on Russian Meddling in U.S. Election

 

RIGHT NOW President Trump pressed Vladimir V. Putin on Russia’s interference in the 2016 United States election. Their encounter lasted two hours and 15 minutes, far longer than expected.

• Mr. Trump’s decision to raise Russian meddling was a big shift; only a day earlier, Mr. Trump expressed his doubts about the extent of Russian meddling.

• The larger gathering of the world’s leading economies will focus on high-profile issues like climate change, global trade, North Korea, Syria and Ukraine.

• Tens of thousands of protesters turned out in the host city, after a demonstration Thursday night, called “Welcome to Hell,” turned violent. Both the police and demonstrators reported injuries, and cars were set on fire.

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• Mr. Trump wants the United States to wield its economic dominance to dictate the rules of global trade, but other countries seem unwilling to follow. As if to make that point, the European Union and Japan agreed on Thursday to the outlines of a trade deal that would diminish opportunities for American companies.

• The United States, Japan and South Korea — but not China — called for a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s long-range missile launch, and for accelerated sanctions to pressure Pyongyang.

Trump Raises Election Interference

In a major shift, Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Putin on his country’s meddling in the 2016 election, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson told reporters after a long meeting between the two leaders on Friday.

“He began by raising the concern of the American people of Russian interference in the 2016 election,” Mr. Tillerson said of Mr. Trump. “He pressed him more than once.”

As recently as Thursday, Mr. Trump conceded that Russia might have had some role in trying to sway the election on his behalf, but he also left open the possibility that other countries had taken similar actions.

Mr. Putin denied “such involvement,” Mr. Tillerson added. He said United States officials would continue to discuss a “framework” for an agreement for Mr. Putin to vow to avoid such actions in the future.

Mr. Tillerson was less than sanguine about the prospects of ever getting Russian to admit their meddling.

“It may be simply an intractable disagreement at this point,” he said.

Mr. Trump had a long discussion with Mr. Putin about “cybersecurity,” the Russian leader told reporters later as he prepared for a meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to Sputnik, a media outlet closely allied to Mr. Putin. — Glenn Thrush

A limited cease-fire in Syria was reached.

The United States and Russia have agreed to a cease-fire in a limited area of southwestern Syria beginning on Sunday, a senior Trump administration official said on Friday after the first face-to-face meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin.

The move would be the latest effort by American and Russian officials to resolve the conflict in Syria and facilitate an agreement to end the six-year civil war there.

Trump administration officials had said that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin would discuss the idea of partnering to establish “safe zones” in Syria as part of his efforts to usher in a new era of cooperation with Moscow.

The news was first reported by The Associated Press and confirmed by a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been officially announced.

The deal was the first indication of a concrete development after the heavily scrutinized meeting with Mr. Putin. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

All eyes were on Trump and Putin.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin met on Friday, and while their face-to-face encounter was not officially the main event at the G-20, for many, it might as well have been. It lasted well over two hours, far longer than expected. A “readout,” or summary, of the topics discussed was not immediately available.

Before the meeting, both leaders sat side by side for photographs as journalists shouted questions.

“President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well,” Mr. Trump said. “We look forward to a lot of very positive happenings for Russia and for the United States, and for everyone concerned.”
Mr. Putin said he was happy to have the chance to meet Mr. Trump in person. “We spoke over the phone,” he said, “but phone conversations are never enough, definitely.”

He added: “I hope that, as you have said, our meetings will yield positive results.”

Only six people attended the meeting: Mr. Trump and his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson; Mr. Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov; and two interpreters.

The Russians had agitated to include several more staff members in the meeting, but Mr. Trump’s team had insisted that the meeting be kept small to avoid leaks and competing accounts later, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the carefully choreographed meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity around the matter.

Even a brief handshake earlier in the day, before the proceedings officially opened, was the subject of enormous scrutiny.
In Warsaw, where he gave a speech on Thursday before flying to Hamburg, Mr. Trump delivered a mixed message on Russia. He urged it to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine,” and denounced its support for “hostile regimes,” including Iran and Syria, and offered unqualified support for the collective defense principle of NATO.

At the same time, he broke with American intelligence agencies by saying he was not entirely convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election.

In Moscow, there was a sense that Mr. Putin will be able to outwit and outmaneuver the American leader and come out on top. “It is a win-win situation for Putin,” said Andrei V. Kolesnikov, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, though it will not be all smooth sailing for Mr. Putin.

The two leaders find themselves on opposite sides of several important issues, including climate change and Western sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea. The Kremlin is also rankled by a missile defense system that the United States is building in Eastern Europe.

They might find some common ground on counterterrorism. But in Syria, Moscow is backing President Bashar al-Assad, while Washington still wants to see him step down.

Protesters got an early start. So did the police.
Hamburg awoke on Friday to the buzz of helicopters and the wailing of sirens, as police officers rushed to keep up with protesters who had gathered at the city’s major intersections in an effort to block the routes G-20 leaders were to take to the Messehallen Convention Center, the site of the meeting.

Protesters burned several vehicles and set fire to trash hauling bins overnight, and columns of smoke could be seen rising over the city again early Friday. Taxi drivers were avoiding the city center, some in protest, others to protect their vehicles.

“We remind you that gatherings in the transit corridors will not be tolerated,” the police said on Twitter. The authorities used water cannons to stop the protesters from advancing.
The police presence was enormous near the convention center. In black riot gear including helmets, padding and sometimes face masks, the police stood in small groups in a quiet face-off with civilians who might or might not have been demonstrators. The authorities have said that 20,000 police officers would be deployed.

Many streets in and around the city center — which is famous for its extreme left-wing scene — were blocked to ordinary traffic, though nearby public transport stations were open, albeit with increased security patrols.

Demonstrations Thursday night turned violent after the police moved in to separate a group wearing balaclavas and masks — which German law forbids during public protests — in a section of the 12,000 people who had filled the streets outside the security perimeter. — Melissa Eddy and Steven Erlanger

The ‘family’ posed for a group photo.
After finally corralling the leaders to stand for the official “family photograph,” and persuading them to stop schmoozing with one another and take their seats, Ms. Merkel delivered a short and relatively anodyne opening statement.

The German chancellor said she hoped that the summit meeting would “contribute to allaying” the “fears, needs and anxieties” of the world’s peoples. “We all know the great global challenges,” she said, “and time is pressing.”

Those in the room represent two-thirds of the world’s population, four-fifths of the world’s gross domestic product and three-quarters of the world’s trade, she said, and the rest of the world expected results.

Mr. Trump was on the side of the group photo, where leaders were mostly arrayed by seniority. Ms. Merkel stood at the center, flanked by the leaders of China, which hosted last year’s G-20 summit meeting, and Argentina, which will host next year’s.

Ms. Merkel noted that the symbol of this meeting — a naval reef knot — was intended to show that the world is interconnected.

“The more you pull on it, the better it holds,” she said. — Steven Erlanger and Alison Smale

What’s on everyone’s mind? Podesta, Trump says.
On a day in which he might — or might not — confront Mr. Putin on Russia’s attempts to sway the 2016 election, Mr. Trump decided to mount a diversionary attack against an American adversary.

“Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!” Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet sandwiched between polite happy-to-meet tweets about Mr. Putin, Ms. Merkel, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.

Mr. Trump’s tweet was off the mark on three counts:

• Mr. Podesta was Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman at the time and had no authority to turn over anything, much less someone else’s emails, to the F.B.I. and C.I.A.

• Mr. Podesta — whose own emails were targeted by hackers — fully cooperated with law enforcement agencies.

• The Democratic National Committee, which was leery of the F.B.I. because of its inquiry into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server, did deny investigators access to their servers. But it gave the bureau information that later pointed to Moscow’s interference in the election, according to congressional testimony from James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director. — Glenn Thrush

Protests force Melania Trump to stay at her guesthouse.
The first lady, Melania Trump, scrapped her public schedule on Friday because the local police, who are dealing with protests, would not allow her to leave the guesthouse where she and Mr. Trump are staying because of security concerns, her spokeswoman said.

Mrs. Trump, who was to attend a boat tour, a luncheon and a visit to a climate-control facility with the spouses of other G-20 leaders, instead stayed cloistered in the residence, away from the mayhem. “She was very much looking forward to the day,” said the spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham.

While other world leaders and their delegations stayed in hotels near the site of the summit meeting, the Trumps are staying at a guesthouse in another area.

Protesters poured through the streets near the convention center on Friday carrying banners with anti-globalization messages and some anti-Trump slogans. “Refugees welcome,” one sign said, while others read “No G-20” and other still insulted Mr. Trump in colorful terms.

Mrs. Trump posted a message on Twitter on Friday expressing concern for those hurt in the demonstrations. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

 

“I’m here because I oppose how education in Germany is structured, that they’re training us to be workers and not thinkers,” said Hendro Myrow, 18, a student in Hamburg.
Lisa Müller, who helped organize the march, said its leaders had tried to draw as many students as possible. “The whole system of capitalism is the problem, because you need losers and winners, and that goes on at school as well,” she said. “It’s about learning one thing but not what you want to learn.”

Groups of riot police officers observed the march as it progressed. Police trucks blocked several streets, as various protest leaders took turns with a loudspeaker to criticize the education system, capitalism and the G-20. — David Shimer

The G-20 Is Gathering. How’s Your Summit Knowledge?
The Group of 20 summit meeting begins on Friday in the German city of Hamburg. What is the G-20, and what happens when its members meet? See how much you know.

E.U. warns U.S. against protectionism.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the European trade commissioner, warned the Trump administration on Friday against taking measures that would penalize European steel exporters.
“Barriers on steel imports would be very bad for the E.U., as European businesses and workers could be affected very heavily and jobs would be threatened,” Ms. Malmstrom said.

“If global trade rules are not upheld, the E.U. will retaliate,” she added. “But we don’t think this is the right way to go, as you cannot fight protectionism with protectionism.” — James Kanter

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