President Donald Trump said not to expect “a Perry Mason” moment when he again confronts Vladimir Putin on Monday over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, but promised to tackle the issue head-on.
“I will absolutely, firmly ask the question” about interference in the U.S. election, Trump said at a news conference on Friday with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country estate. But he predicted Putin wouldn’t confess.
“I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me,”’ Trump said. Referring to a TV courtroom drama aired in the 1950s and 1960s, he added, “There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think, but you never know what happens, right?”
Trump said he also will discuss the civil war in Syria, Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and nuclear proliferation when he meets with Putin in Helsinki.
“We’ve been modernizing and fixing and buying” the U.S. nuclear arsenal, Trump said. “It’s just a devastating technology. And they likewise are doing a lot. It’s a very, very bad policy. We have no choice. We are massively big and they are very big.”
Ahead of the Finland meeting, Trump upended a NATO summit in Brussels this week by demanding that America’s closest allies more rapidly increase their defense spending. He insinuated that the U.S. might withdraw from the alliance otherwise.
His treatment of U.S. allies has drawn broad criticism from many lawmakers in both parties. Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, called Trump’s NATO remarks “misstatements and bluster” and “the words of one man.”
He said that in Helsinki, Trump should “reverse his disturbing tendency to show America’s adversaries the deference and esteem that should be reserved for our closest allies.”