Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an occasionally combative interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, called it “utterly ridiculous” that some people think the Russians could have swayed millions of American voters in the 2016 election, while insisting his country did not have dirt on President Trump or his family.
“Interference with the domestic affairs of the United States — do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?” Putin said. “This is utterly ridiculous.”
The Russian president sat down for the interview airing on “Special Report” Monday after his summit earlier in the day with President Trump and other U.S. officials in Helsinki, Finland. Trump has faced harsh bipartisan criticism back home for his press conference with Putin, with lawmakers claiming Trump missed a key chance to “stand up” to the Russian president on election meddling.
The summit came just days after the Justice Department announced the indictments of a dozen Russian intelligence operatives for allegedly hacking Democratic targets in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. At one point in the interview, Wallace tried handing Putin a copy of the indictment. But Putin motioned for him to put the papers on a side table instead.
“First of all, Russia, as a state, has never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections,” Putin replied.
Putin also denied having “kompromat” — or “compromising material” — on Trump. Earlier Monday, after Putin and Trump’s joint news conference, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California claimed Trump’s “weakness in front of Putin… proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically.”
“We don’t have anything on them,” Putin said.
He added: “I don’t want to insult President Trump when I say this — and I may come as rude — but before he announced that he will run for presidency, he was of no interest for us.”