Vladimir Putin Tells Megyn Kelly U.S. Authorities Were "Misled" About Russia's Involvement in DNC Hack
"I haven't seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election in the United States," says the Russian president.
NBC's Megyn Kelly sat down with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, Russia, in her first major interview at her new TV home after departing Fox News.
The interview, which aired Sunday night on the first episode of NBC News' Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly, found Putin addressing questions about the ongoing claims of collusion between his country and Donald Trump's presidential campaign, his relationship with Michael Flynn and Russia's involvement in the Democratic National Committee hack last year.
Asked if Russia was involved in the hack, Putin said that U.S. authorities, including numerous intelligence agents and the congressional oversight committee, were "misled."
"And they aren't analyzing the information in its entirety," he said. "I haven't seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election in the United States."
He then suggested that perhaps American hackers are to blame and found a way to divert the blame onto Russia, pointing to a conspiracy theory about President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 to support his own idea.
"There's a theory that Kennedy's assassination was arranged by the United States intelligence services," he said. "So, if this theory is correct and that can't be ruled out, then what could be easier, in this day and age, than using all the technical means at the disposal of the intelligence services and using those means to organize some attacks? And then pointing the finger at Russia."
He also argued that the U.S. "actively interferes with electoral campaigns of other countries." When Kelly told him that sounded like a "justification," he argued that it was a "statement of fact."
Regarding his relationship with former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Putin said they were sitting next to each other at a dinner in Russia and had little interaction. Putin said he didn't realize that Flynn had been involved with anything having to do with U.S. intelligence until someone told him afterward.
Kelly also asked Putin if he has any "damaging" information on Trump.
"Well, this is just another load of nonsense," he said. "Where would we get this information from? Why, did we have some special relationship with him? We didn't have any relationship at all. There was a time when he used to come to Moscow. But you know, I never met with him. We have a lot of Americans who visit us. Right now, I think we have representatives from a hundred American companies that have come to Russia. Do you think we're gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something? Are you all — have you all lost your senses over there?"