Nikki Haley: Putin Is Trying To ‘Save Face’ After Trump Grilled Him On Election Meddling

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Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Saturday Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to avoid being humiliated when he suggested President Donald Trump agreed that Russia did not meddle in the U.S. election.

“This is Russia trying to save face and they can’t. Everybody knows Russia meddled in our elections,” said Haley on CNN’s “State of the Union.” She was referring to Putin’s insistence Saturday in Germany that Trump appeared to agree that Russia did not inject itself into the U.S. presidential election.

Trump’s decision to bring up the meddling at the start was a fire across Putin’s bow, Haley said. The U.S. president’s intention, she claimed, was to let his Russian counterpart know that, “yes we know you meddled in our elections … and cut it out.”

Her comments appear to mirror Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remarks on the meeting between the two world leaders. Tillerson told reporters Friday that Trump and Putin had a “lengthy and robust” discussion about election meddling.

Haley, for her part, said that Trump was adding his demands for an explanation to those made by other world leaders who worry Russian has also tried influencing their elections. “They are trying to cause chaos within the countries,” she added.

Several pundits on CNN and MSNBC assumed Trump wouldn’t raise the interference issue because of the president’s supposed comfortable relationship with Putin. Media commentators also believe members of the Trump administration helped Russia tinker with last year’s election.

“What should be happening in a normal world is Donald Trump should go in there saying, ‘we know you’ve been meddling in the election, we’re going to continue to squeeze you.” said MSNBC’s Ali Velshi.

“Some early reports that sound like he doesn’t intend to [bring up meddling],” CNN’s Susan Hennessey suggested Friday. “The idea that at the same moment or early before he would choose to, once again, raise these issues on his Twitter feed really just puts sort of the starkness and sort of bizarreness of his to not bring this up to President Putin.”

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