In an interview with NBC which aired on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin fiercely denied allegations of any Russian meddling during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and also denied that there was any “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
During the interview, NBC host Megyn Kelly brought up the topic of a photograph taken in Moscow at an event for Russian news outlet RT last year which showed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn sitting next to Vladimir Putin, along with many others.
“You and I, you and I personally, have a much closer relationship than I had with Mr. Flynn,” Putin told Kelly. “You and I met yesterday evening. You and I have been working together all day today, and now we’re meeting again.”
“When I came to the event for our company, Russia Today, and sat down at the table, next to me there was a gentleman sitting on one side. I made my speech. Then we talked about some other stuff. And I got up and left. And then afterwards I was told, ‘You know there was an American gentleman. He was involved in some things. He used to be in the security services,’ That’s it. I didn’t even really talk to him,” Putin said.
The Russian president then slammed conspiracy theories about Russia’s alleged meddling and said the accusations are nothing more than a tool to be used against U.S. President Donald Trump. “I just find it amazing how you created a sensation where there wasn’t anything at all. And proceeded to turn that sensation into a tool for fighting the sitting president. You know, you’re just very resourceful people there, well done, probably your lives there are boring.”
Having reiterated that the classified intelligence agencies’ reports on Moscow’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election contain no “direct proof,” Putin said that officials in the US “have been misled and they are not analyzing the information in its entirety.”
“We have talked about it with former President Obama and with several other officials. No one ever showed me any direct evidence,” the Russian president told Kelly, adding that modern information technology allows people to “mask and camouflage” any hacking attack in a way so that no one would ever be able to track its origin.
“The other thing is that I am deeply convinced that no interference from the outside, in any country, even a small one, let alone in such a vast and great power as the United States, can influence the final outcome of the elections. It is not possible. Ever,” Putin said.