Vladimir Putin Admits He Wanted Donald Trump to Win 2016 Election Over Hillary Clinton

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that he did want President Trump to win the 2016 election after the two held a private meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

"Yes, I did," Putin said at a press conference after the meeting when asked if he wanted Trump to win. "Yes, I did."

The remark comes amid the high profile Department of Justice Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Trump's repeated denial of any collusion between the two countries. 

"There was no collusion at all," Trump said at the same press conference. "Zero collusion."

Putin agreed with Trump, as he has in the past, and added that Russia "never interfered" in any American affairs.

Despite the denials from both leaders, the Department of Justice's Special Counsel investigation, led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, handed down 12 indictments Friday against twelve Russian agents for conspiring to interfere in the 2016 election. 

In July 2017, multiple U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election. 

Trump also used the press conference to revisit some of his popular talking points. "What happened to Hillary Clinton's emails?" he asked in response to a question about whether he held Russia accountable. "33,000 emails gone, just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn't be gone so easily."

He added, without prompting, that "the Electoral College is much more advantageous to Democrats than it is to Republicans.:

At one point, he even cast doubt on the findings of his own intelligence and law enforcement agencies, stating that he saw "no reason" why Russia would have interfered in the election. 

The president's dismissal of Russia's role in the 2016 election drew criticism from both sides of the aisle. "I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression," Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona tweeted. "This is shameful."

Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator from South Carolina called Trump's strategy at the meeting a "missed opportunity to hold Russia accountable."

Added Democrat Senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy, in a tweet: "This entire trip has just been one giant middle finger from President Trump to his own country. Just jaw dropping."

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