President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a joint press conference on Monday — and the two men both made multiple jaw-dropping statements.
During the event, Trump and Putin repeatedly showered each other with praise, and the two men regularly defended one another from criticisms being leveled against them within the United States and from other NATO allies.
Below are the most jaw-dropping moments of the Trump-Putin press conference.
1. Putin trolls America by offering to have his own intelligence agencies “investigate” their interference in the 2016 presidential election — and Trump praises him for it. Putin’s offer to have his own intelligence officials probe themselves was generally seen as an attempt to subtly mock the United States, since no one believes the GRU would fairly investigate its own activities.
Trump, however, called Putin’s proposal an “incredible offer.”
2. Trump denies a report that he called Putin a “rival” — and insists that what he actually said was meant to be flattering. When asked by a Russian reporter why he had referred to his Russian counterpart as a rival, Trump pushed back and said he’d only referred to Putin a “competitor.” Trump went on to say that he meant it as a “compliment” because Putin was so good at competing.
3. Trump would not say whether he believes his own intelligence agencies when they claim Russia directly interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Even though Trump hedged on whether he believed his own appointees to the nation’s intelligence agencies, he did say that Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” He then said that he “didn’t see any reason” why Russia would interfere in America’s elections.
4. Trump says that he personally fixed America’s relationship with Russia in a matter of hours. Although Trump once again repeated his claim that recent relations with Russia have “never been worse” that they’ve ever been, the president added that “that changed as of about four hours ago — I really believe that.”
5. Trump says that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election is the biggest impediment for peace between the countries. Trump did not criticize Russia for interfering in American elections, or for allegedly poisoning former spies on British soil, or for helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad massacre civilians. Rather, he said the major factor driving division between America and Russia was the Mueller probe.
6. Trump responds to question about Russian interference in 2016 with an incoherent rant about Hillary Clinton’s emails. The president tried dodging a question about Russian interference by pivoting to conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s email server and the Democratic National Committee’s server that had been compromised by Russian spies.
“Where is the server?” the president asked in a rambling statement. “What is the server saying?”
Watch the full press conference below: