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Story highlights

The US ambassador to the United Nations said Trump confronted Putin in closed-door meeting

"I think President Putin did exactly what we thought he would do, which is deny it," Haley said

(CNN) —  

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Moscow interfered in last year’s US election in order to “save face.”

“This is Russia trying to save face, and they can’t, they can’t,” Haley told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview for “State of the Union” that will air in full on Sunday. “Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections. Everybody knows that they’re not just meddling in the United States’ election. They’re doing this across multiple continents, and they’re doing this in a way that they’re trying to cause chaos within the countries. “

When asked about what happened behind closed doors during Trump and Putin’s highly anticipated face-to-face meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday, Haley said Trump wanted to look Putin “in the eye.”

“What he did was bring up right away the election meddling, and he did that for a reason,” Haley said. “One, he wanted him (Putin) to basically look him in the eye, let him know that, ‘Yes, we know you meddled in our elections. Yes we know you did it. Cut it out.’ And I think President Putin did exactly what we thought he would do, which is deny it.”

Asked why, if everyone knows Russia interfered in the US election, Trump hasn’t said so in such an unequivocal way publicly, Haley reiterated that Trump’s meeting was confrontational.

“Everybody’s trying to nitpick what he says and what he doesn’t, but talk is one thing, actions are another,” she said. “He confronted President Putin. He made it the first thing that he talked about. And I think we have to now see where it goes from here.”

Trump and Putin met for more than two hours Friday afternoon, ending with an agreement on curbing violence in Syria.

Putin told reporters Saturday that Trump appeared to agree with Moscow’s position that it did not interfere in last year’s election.

“I repeat, he asked a lot of questions on this matter,” Putin said at a Saturday press conference. “I answered as many as I could answer. I think he took it into consideration and agreed with it. But you should ask him what his opinion is on that.”

A senior Trump administration told CNN on Friday that Trump did not accept Putin’s claim of noninterference.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was in the meeting, said afterward that Trump pressed Putin on election meddling and then moved on.

“I think what the two presidents, I think rightly, focused on is how do we move forward,” Tillerson said. “How do we move forward from here?”