Trump-Putin discussion on election hacking yields clashing accounts

Last Updated Jul 7, 2017 5:58 PM EDT

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied any role in hacking the 2016 election when President Trump broached the subject at the beginning of their first meeting since Mr. Trump took office at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Friday, and the two moved on despite the "intractable" differences between the two countries, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

"The Russians have asked for proof and evidence," Tillerson said as he briefed reporters after the more than two-hour meeting. "I'll leave that to the intelligence community to address the answer to that question.  And again, I think the president, at this point, he pressed him and then felt like at this point let's talk about how do we go forward."

That isn't the account Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave reporters at a separate news conference. According to Lavrov, Mr. Trump accepted Putin's assertion that Russians did not meddle in the election. Lavrov claimed Mr. Trump said, "some circles continue to pump up the topic of Russian interference in the American elections though they can't prove it."

But it may be difficult to decipher what exactly happened between Mr. Trump and Putin in Hamburg. Amid Mr. Trump's fears of leaks, only a handful of people were slated to be present -- Mr. Trump, Tillerson, Putin, Lavrov and their respective translators. 

According to Lavrov, a special working group of the Russian Federation and the United States will deal with cybersecurity issues. 

The world leaders' meeting comes one day after Mr. Trump -- despite two major reports from U.S. intelligence agencies concluding Russia interfered in the 2016 election -- said Russia "could have" been responsible for hacking. 

The U.S. and Russia, along with Jordan, have agreed to back a ceasefire in Syria that will go into effect Sunday. On Syria and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Trump administration's stance hasn't changed, Tillerson said. 

"Our position continues to be that we see no long term role for the Assad family or the Assad regime," Tillerson said. 

Mr. Trump and Putin also discussed North Korea -- and have differing opinions on that looming threat, according to Tillerson -- as well as issues in Ukraine. 

According to Lavrov, Mr. Trump and Tillerson said the U.S. has appointed a special representative for the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine, and Russia expects that person to arrive in Moscow soon. 

Tillerson said the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is a "complicated" one, but the two had a "positive chemistry," and, "there was not a lot of re-litigating of the past."

There are no further meetings scheduled between Mr. Trump and Putin at this point, Tillerson said. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.