WATCH: Sarah Sanders demands no one ask about 2016 meddling -- and Fox News' John Roberts immediately defies her
John Roberts (Fox News)

Fox News correspondent John Roberts on Thursday bluntly defied White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sanders asked reporters at a press briefing to keep questions "on topic" and not ask about Russian interference in the 2016 election. She then introduced a number of intelligence and law enforcement officials, who delivered statements on efforts to prevent cyber attacks.

“We’ve address what occurred during the 2016 numerous times and rather extensively. The purpose of today’s briefing is about what we are doing now ... and we ask that you stay on that topic,” Sanders said.

After the officials made their statements, Sanders opened the room up for questions -- and reiterated that everyone should stay "on topic."

But Roberts, who was called on first, quickly brought up Russian meddling in 2016.

"Let me take you back to Helsinki, the president seemed to indicate that he may believe Vladimir Putin when he said he didn't have any influence in the 2016 election. What is your belief about the Russian government involvement in meddling in 2016?" Roberts asked Trump's director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.

"And, if as you say, Russia continues to try to influence our electoral process, does that mean that nothing much came of the meeting with Putin or is it other than government actors involved?"

Coats replied that he thinks "everyone on the stage acknowledged the fact" that the intelligence community was correct in its assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

"We have subsequently made the determination to make this is a top priority so that it doesn't happen again. We are throwing everything at it."

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