Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual news conference on Thursday, an event that commonly runs for hours, offering a kaleidoscope-like glimpse of Putin's view of his country and the world. In this year's edition, the topics ranged from President Trump to Russia's ban at the 2018 Winter Olympics — and the state of the fishing industry in Murmansk.

Arizona Sen. John McCain stepped up his criticism of the White House over the weekend, blasting President Trump for seeming to accept Russian leader Vladimir Putin's assurances that the Kremlin didn't interfere in U.S. elections.

"There's nothing 'America First' about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community," McCain said in a written statement, referring to Trump's stated foreign policy objective and to Putin, a former operative in the Russian intelligence service.

On his Asia trip last week, somewhere over Vietnam on Air Force One, President Trump told reporters he had asked Vladimir Putin again if Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

"He said he didn't meddle," the president said. "He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times."

Trump added: "Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that.' And I believe — I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. ... I think he is very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth."

Updated on Sunday at 12:25 a.m. ET

President Trump told the White House press corps Saturday that he had had several brief conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of an Asia Pacific summit the two men were attending in Vietnam. During those conversations, Putin once again denied any interference in last year's election, Trump said. And, the president said, he believed that Putin believed there was no interference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia is expelling 755 U.S. diplomats and technical personnel in retaliation against new U.S. sanctions proposed against Moscow.

On Friday, Russia's Foreign Ministry had signaled that the U.S. would need to downsize its staff to 455, to exactly match the number of Russian diplomatic and technical staff in the U.S. Now, Putin has announced the exact number of staff he's ordered the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to cut.

Harry Obst, who worked as a German interpreter for seven U.S. presidents through Bill Clinton, says he can only remember one who ever dispensed with an interpreter during discussions with a foreign leader: Richard Nixon.

It was a bad idea for lots of reasons, the author of White House Interpreter: The Art of Interpretation tells NPR.

The political bomb that went off recently when Donald Trump Jr. revealed he met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer in hopes of getting damaging information about Hillary Clinton has raised new questions about the Trump family's connections to Russia.

And investigators are looking for clues in what might seem like an unlikely place: the glitzy November 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

President Trump said he would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House "at the right time" when asked by a reporter on Air Force One Wednesday night.

"I don't think this is the right time, but the answer is yes I would," he said, according to a pool report released on Thursday. "Look, it's very easy for me to say absolutely, I won't. That's the easy thing for me to do, but that's the stupid thing to do."

Spare a thought for the poor U.S.-Russia Joint Impenetrable Cybersecurity Unit, which didn't even survive an entire news cycle this weekend.

President Trump pitched the joint cyber-team with Russia in a tweet on Sunday.

He went on to rule out the idea in a second tweet on Sunday evening.

Updated at 4:03 p.m. ET

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Friday that President Trump raised the issue of Russian election interference in a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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