Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he “couldn’t care less” about claims made in the United States that he ordered interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Speaking exclusively with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, Putin denied any Russian involvement in the hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee that exposed private conversations within Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this?” asked Putin.
FBI special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into alleged Russian interference and potential collusion from the Trump campaign, recently indicted 13 Russian nationals offenses related to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
“So what if they’re Russians?” Putin continued. “There are 146 million Russians. So what? … I don’t care. I couldn’t care less. … They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”
“Maybe they’re not even Russians,” he said. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”
Putin added that he would not make any prosecutions unless individuals were found to have violated Russian law.
“We in Russia cannot prosecute anyone as long as they have not violated Russian law,” he said. “At least send us a piece of paper. … Give us a document. Give us an official request. And we’ll take a look at it.”
“Could anyone really believe that Russia, thousands of miles away … influenced the outcome of the election? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous even to you?” he said. “It’s not our goal to interfere. We do not see what goal we would accomplish by interfering. There’s no goal.”
This upcoming interview is the second Putin has given Megyn Kelly, who last June debuted her newsmagazine show Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly with the Russian leader, in which she made a number of unsubstantiated claims regarding the Trump administration’s past activities.