Trump says Russia probe a 'disaster' for US
US President Donald Trump declared Monday, standing alongside Russia's Vladimir Putin, that an investigation into Moscow's alleged meddling in his election had been a "disaster" for the United States.
"We ran a brilliant campaign and that's why I'm president," Trump said, once again firmly denying allegations that Russian hacking and propaganda assisted him in his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton.
A special counsel in the United States has indicted Russian firms and individuals as part of a probe into possible collusion between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Trump denies wrongdoing and calls the investigation a "witch hunt."
The US intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow sought to interfere in that campaign to tilt the election in Trump's favour has also been hanging over relations with Russia since Trump took office in January last year.
After Trump and Putin met briefly in Vietnam in November 2017, Trump was criticised in the United States for saying he believed Putin when the Russian president denied accusations that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections.
In a Twitter post last month before the Helsinki meeting was announced, Trump again appeared to cast doubt on Russian involvement. "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!" he posted.
U.S. President Trump told Russian President Putin that he hopes the two leaders will end up having "an extraordinary relationship" in opening remarks in Helsinki.