National Security

Priebus: Trump ‘Absolutely Did Not Believe’ Putin’s Denial of Election Interference

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday that President Donald Trump did not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin's denials in their face-to-face meeting that the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had claimed Trump "accepted" Putin's assertions that he did not order an interference and hacking campaign in the election, and that Trump told Putin "certain circles" in the U.S. were still exaggerating the topic.

"Reince, is that true?" Fox News host Chris Wallace asked. "Did the president say what Lavrov says he said?"

"No, it's not true. The president absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin," Priebus said. "What the president did is he immediately came into the meeting, talked about Russian meddling in the U.S. election, went after that issue at least two separate times … This was an extensive portion of the meeting."

Wallace asked Priebus directly if Trump believed the Russians meddled in the election. The top agencies in the U.S. intelligence community have concluded that the Kremlin did order the cyber campaign to interfere in the election to help Trump beat Hillary Clinton.

"He's answered this question many times," Priebus said. "He said they probably meddled in the election. They did meddle in the election."

Priebus added that Trump was right to say other countries had interfered as well, saying it was an "absolute fact" that China and North Korea have interfered as well.

Trump has delivered mixed messages on the issue, saying on Thursday that it "could have been Russia" but it also "could have been people in other countries."

Trump tweeted Sunday morning that he "strongly pressed" Putin on the issue of election meddling and that Putin denied it. He said it was time to "move forward" in their relationship.

UPDATE: 10:47 A.M.: This article was updated to include Priebus stated China and North Korea have also interfered.