Donald Trump: Yes, Russia meddled in the US election
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump says he agrees that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, but he is repeating his assertion that he believes "other countries" may have done the same.
Mr Trump did not elaborate on which other countries he believes meddled in the 2016 election during his remarks in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday. He says "nobody really knows for sure."
Mr Trump offered rare criticism of Russia's "destabilising" behaviour.
He was speaking ahead of his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Trump also repeated his claims that former US President Barack Obama knew that Russia was meddling in the election.
Mr Trump said people say Mr Obama "choked" but he believes Mr Obama purposely "did nothing" because he thought Democrat Hillary Clinton would win the election.
When asked about a mock video he retweeted showing him tackling and punching a man with CNN's logo superimposed on his head, Mr Trump says the network had taken it "too seriously".
Mr Trump renewed his criticism of CNN and US media when discussing the video, which critics said encouraged violence against journalists.
Mr Trump also pledged to back NATO, a group he once called "obsolete", saying the future of the West depended on it.
"The defence of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail," he said.
"The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive."
"The United States has demonstrated not merely with words, but with it actions, that we stand firmly behind Article Five," he said, while calling for more defence spending on the eastern side of the Atlantic.
"The transatlantic bond between the United States and Europe is as strong as ever, and maybe in many ways, even stronger," he added.
US-RUSSIA RELATIONS AT 'ALL-TIME LOW'
Feuding presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will meet for the first time tonight on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany.
Their high-stakes sit-down and the thorny question of how to counter North Korea's nuclear ambitions have combined to deliver the biggest foreign policy test of Mr Trump's five-month-old presidency.
Mr Trump's relationship with Mr Putin has been increasingly stretched, with the leaders who previously spoke highly of each other trading barbs over Syria and accusations Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently described US-Russian relations as at "an lowest".
The White House isn't revealing details of the meeting but the Kremlin said yesterday the pair would sit down for "a rather detailed, in-depth discussion".
"This is the first meeting, the first time the two presidents will get acquainted - this is the main thing about it,' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press conference.
"The expectation is that a working dialogue will be established, which is vitally important for the entire world when it comes to increasing the efficiency of resolving a critical mass of conflicts."
Mr Trump arrived to a warm welcome in Poland yesterday, with a crowd of locals cheering a motorcade carrying the President and wife Melania, as well as first daughter Ivanka Trump and her presidential adviser husband Jared Kushner.
His arrival in Hamburg for the G20 is not anticipated to be greeted with such enthusiasm, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel expected to challenge him on his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement and his anti-NATO stance.
Mr Trump's negotiating skills will be tested by the summit, with North Korea's first successful testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile this week seeing him ratchet up pressure on China to adopt a more muscular approach to Pyongyang.
On Wednesday local time he tweeted his displeasure with Beijing not pushing hard enough with sanctions on the hermit state, ahead of meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Germany.
"Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 per cent in the first quarter.
So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!" he said.
Mr Trump's national security adviser H.R McMaster said there was "no specific agenda" for his talks with Mr Putin.
"It's really going to be whatever the President wants to talk about," Gen McMaster said.
'"As the President has made clear, he'd like the United States and the entire West to develop a more constructive relationship with Russia. But he's also made clear that we will do what is necessary to confront Russia's destabilising behaviour."