The president didn't have to bow to Putin, fully embracing every obvious lie the Russian leader had told him.
The summit, which is being closely watched around the world, was not the first time Trump and Putin have held talks.
Trump said in an interview with CBS News broadcast on Sunday that he may ask the Russian president to extradite the agents to the U.S. On Monday, he blamed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the election interference for poor relations between the U.S. and Russia, rather than the Kremlin activities that the Department of Justice began probing in 2016.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called Trump's trip to Europe, which included contentious stops in the United Kingdom and Belgium, as "one giant middle finger" to the U.S. The damage inflicted by President Trump's naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is hard to calculate. I called up Theresa May and Angela Merkel, and they agree with me. The US president, apparently guessing at Putin's weak spot, had relentlessly complimented the Russian on the recent World Cup, which he called "one of the best ever" and complimented the play of the Russian side. He called Russian Federation a "foe in certain respects". Trump smiled as he showed the ball to the television cameras and said he'd give it to his 12-year-old son Barron, a soccer fan. "But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today", Trump said. But he continues to face questions about whether he's playing into the hands of Putin, who has long sought to exacerbate and exploit tensions among Western allies. "I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be". "We are the two great nuclear powers. We have 90 percent of the nuclear and that's not a good thing, it's a bad thing".
The U.S. president has expressed reluctance to hold Putin to account for Moscow's election meddling and has indicated he accepts the Russian president's denials at face value.
At Monday's summit in Helsinki, two leaders not known for their love of diplomacy both tried out an act as elder statesmen, trading lofty phrases about shared interests and respect that could turn around the troubled relations between Russian Federation and the United States.
Britain's Theresa May bows to Brexit pressure in parliament
The plan sparked widespread criticism and the apparent beginning of an exodus from government officials and parliament members. But one MP told AFP they would likely not push it to a vote on Monday, instead waiting to see what the eurosceptics do.
Former intelligence chiefs who served under President Barack Obama were scathing in their criticism of his remarks.
The summit started late because Putin arrived in Helsinki about a half hour behind schedule in another display of the Russian's leader famous lack of punctuality.
Both Trump and Putin repeatedly denied accusations that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian intelligence officials to swing the election. Trump seemed to return the favor by waiting until Putin had arrived at the palace before leaving his hotel. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate's top Democrat.
He added: "With that being said, all I can do is ask the question". Even before the allegations of Russian meddling, tensions were high over Moscow's concerns about North Atlantic Treaty Organisation expansion, Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and its military backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in 2015.
Asked if he believes USA intel agencies or Putin about Russia's interference in the 2016 election, Trump immediately starts pushing debunked DNC & Hillary conspiracy theories.
The video was created by Academy Award-nominated animator Bill Plympton and set to audio clips of Trump praising Putin.