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Michigan senator accuses Russian leader with 'playing games' at summit with Pres. Trump


Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters is accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of “playing games” with the United States.

Peters says he wanted President Trump to “call out” Putin for interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election during their summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland today.

President Trump said he directly addressed meddling by Russia in the 2016 U.S. election with the Russian leader during the meeting.  But the U.S. president is not condemning Moscow's conduct publicly.

Trump said during a joint news conference that his message was "best delivered in person." He said he "spent a great deal of time" talking about election meddling.

Putin said Moscow never interfered and will never interfere in the American electoral process.

The summit comes days after the U.S. indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence agents for sophisticated hacking in the 2016 election.

Trump resisted when asked Monday to condemn Russian meddling in the election. Instead, he complained about a Democratic National Committee computer server and emails belonging to Hillary Clinton, the Democrat he defeated to win the presidency.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (right) tours the Ferris Wheel in downtown Flint, Michigan. The 7-story building serves as an incubator for small businesses

Putin said that Moscow and Washington could jointly conduct criminal investigations into Russian intelligence officials accused of hacking during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

President Trump called it “an incredible offer.”

Asked if Russia could extradite 12 Russian military intelligence officers indicted in the U.S. last week on charges of hacking into the Democratic election campaign, Putin challenged the U.S. to take advantage of a 1999 agreement envisaging mutual legal assistance.

He said the agreement would allow U.S. officials to request that Russian authorities interrogate the 12 suspects, adding that U.S. officials could request to be present in such interrogations.

Putin noted that Russia would expect the U.S. to return the favor and cooperate in the Russian probe against William Browder, a British investor charged of financial crimes in Russia. Browder was a driving force behind a U.S. law targeting Russian officials over human rights abuses.

But Peters is skeptical of Putin’s motivation.

“I’m not sure what kind of game Mr. Putin is playing,” Peters said today during a visit to a small business incubator in Flint. “But if you look at his past history, he does play games. And he tries to manipulate a situation.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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