You’re Putin me on.
Russian President Vladimir Putin mocked charges that his country meddled in the 2016 presidential election, dismissing the accusations as “yelling and hollering in the United States Congress.”
Putin’s denial comes after special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Kremlin-connected firms last month with interfering in the 2016 presidential vote in favor of President Trump through a social media smear campaign.
“I have to see first what they’ve done. Give us materials, give us information,” Putin said in an interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly that aired late Friday.
Kelly listed some of the accusations of Russian interference made by Mueller’s office and other U.S. officials, including the spreading of false information online.
Russian operatives working for Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch with ties to Putin, used a network of fake social media accounts and targeted messaging to “sow discord” ahead of the election, prosecutors allege.
Posing as American activists, Russians working for the Internet Research Agency created social media pages that encouraged real U.S. residents to take to the streets in protest.
The 37-page indictment marked the first time the federal government identified specific culprits and included a wealth of information.
U.S. intelligence officials have stated publicly that they believe the Kremlin tried to influence the outcome of the election and warned last month that Russia is attempting similar tactics ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
“With all due respect for you personally, with all due respect for Congress, you must have people with legal degrees, 100% you do,” Putin said smiling.
Kelly, a former corporate defense attorney, informed the Russian president she did indeed have a law degree.
Putin responded by recommending U.S. authorities send Russia’s general prosecutor an official request.
“This has to go through official channels,” he told her, “not through the press or yelling and hollering in the United States Congress.”
The U.S. and Russia do not have an extradition treaty.
The interview with the 65-year-old former KGB intelligence agent came a day after Putin delivered a marathon speech outlining a new array of nuclear-capable weapons in the lead up to Russia’s own national elections.
Some of the futuristic firepower still has “to be fine-tuned and worked on” while others are “already battle ready,” he told the cheering crowd.
On Saturday, Putin joined tens of thousands of supporters at a campaign rally at Moscow’s sprawling main sports complex.
Officials estimated 130,000 people turned out at the Luzhniki stadium.
“We want to make our country bright, forward-looking into the future, because our ancestors lived here, we live here, our children live here and our children and our grandchildren will live here,” Putin told the crowd.
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