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Photo: Yuri Kadobnova/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump today, at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he didn't see "any reason" why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election, in response to a question on whether he believed Putin or U.S. intelligence agencies.

Our thought bubble from Jonathan Swan in Helsinki: "I just have no words. As press in this room, we are all sitting in here speechless and stunned. Trump cast doubt over the U.S. intelligence community and endorsed Putin’s denial. Trump was given an opportunity to denounce the meddling and he didn’t; he just pivoted to lines about the missing server and Hillary’s emails. While Putin spoke forcefully, lying, Trump nodded along. There’s no way of sugar coating or spinning this."

Why it matters: This comes just days after Trump's own administration indicted 12 Russians for hacking the DNC with the intent of interfering with the election. The U.S. intelligence community has repeatedly concluded that Russia actively sought to interfere in the election, and plans to again.

When asked if he wanted Trump to win the election, Putin said, "Yes I did. Because he talked about bringing the US-Russia relationship back to normal."

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

More key quotes from Trump: He said that the relationship between the U.S. and Russia “has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago.”

  • On that deteriorating relationship, Trump said: "I hold both countries responsible. I think the United States has been foolish... I think we've all been foolish. We're all to blame."
  • He called Putin a "good competitor," not an adversary.
  • "I beat Hillary Clinton easily... We won that race. And it's a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it."
  • "There was no collusion. I didn't know the president. There was nobody to collude with."
  • Trump called the Russia investigation "a disaster for our country."
  • When asked whether he believes the U.S. intelligence community or Putin over what happened in 2016, Trump said "I don't see any reason why it would be [Russia], I really want to see the server." He added, "President Putin was extremely strong in his denial."

And Putin:

  • “The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including [the] election process.”
  • "Could you name a single fact that would definitely prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense. Just like the President recently mentioned." However, Putin offered to interrogate the 12 Russians indicted by the Justice Department.
  • Combatting the idea that Trump and Putin trust one another, Putin said, “You can trust no one.”
  • When asked about reports that Russia has compromising material on Trump: "Now to the compromising material, I did hear this rumor. When Trump visited Moscow back then, I didn’t even know he was in Moscow.”

Get more stories like this by signing up for our weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.