LONDON – President Donald Trump said he has 'low expectations' for his first formal summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Democratic lawmakers have urged Trump to cancel Monday's meeting with Putin in Helsinki after a grand jury convened by special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents for hacking into the emails of Democratic campaign officials in the 2016 election.
But Trump told CBS News interview that he thought it was a good thing to meet.
"Nothing bad is going to come out of it, and maybe some good will come out," he said.
"I go in with low expectations," Trump said. "I'm not going in with high expectations."
In an interview broadcast on Face the Nation Sunday, Jeff Glor of CBS News asked Trump if he would ask Putin to send the Russian agents to the United States for prosecution. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia.
"I might. I hadn't thought about it. Certainly I'll be asking about it," Trump said.
However, in a separate interview on Sunday on ABC's This Week, White House national security adviser John Bolton played down the prospect of Trump raising the issue of extradition,
“I think it’s pretty silly for the president to demand something that he can’t get legally,’’ Bolton said. “This is a very serious matter. You know the Russians take the position - you can like it or not like it – that their Constitution forbids them to extradite Russian citizens.’
“For the president to demand something that isn’t going to happen puts the president in a weak position,’’ he said. “I think the president has made it very clear he intends to approach this discussion from a position of strength.’’
After a turbulent diplomatic trip to Brussels and London last week to meet with European allies, Trump's relationship with Putin will be scrutinized as much for its domestic political implications as its international significance.
Since the 29-page indictment was unsealed Friday, Trump has continued to blame President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee for leaving the Democratic email servers vulnerable to hacking. He claimed the Russians also attempted to hack into the Republican National Committee, "but we had much better defenses."
Putin has repeatedly denied any knowledge of interference in the U.S. election.
Though U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia intervened in the U.S. election to help Trump's election chances, the president has at times said he believes Putin's denials of involvement. He has said he would raise the issue with Putin in their summit but has suggested it would be perfunctory.
"We will, of course, ask your favorite question about meddling," Trump told reporters last week. "I will be asking that question again. But we'll also be talking about other things."
But Bolton said Sunday said the hacking of Democratic emails during 2016 campaign was a serious matter and he found it "hard to believe" that Putin was unaware of it.
Among the revelations in the indictment brought against the 12 Russian agents was that the hacking operation began July 26, 2016 – the same day Trump publicly encouraged the Kremlin to do so.
"Russia, If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said that day.
Clinton, Trump's Democratic rival, had used a private email server to conduct official business while secretary of State, but deleted many emails before investigators could examine how many contained classified information.
Trump departed for Helsinki Sunday after spending the weekend playing golf at his Turnberry golf course in Scotland.
"Looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow,'' Trump tweeted Sunday. "Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia."