Putin calls 2016 interference claims 'ridiculous,' but says only facts were leaked

Putin calls 2016 interference claims 'ridiculous,' but says only facts were leaked
© Getty images

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed talk of Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. election as “utterly ridiculous,” but said that only facts were leaked following the hacking of Democratic groups.

Fox News host Chris Wallace was asking Putin about special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s indictment Friday of 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking a number of Democratic officials as part of the Russian effort to tip the 2016 election in President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE’s favor.

“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 responded through a translator.

“This is utterly ridiculous,” he added.

The comments came after Trump and Putin’s summit in Helsinki earlier Monday. In a post-summit press conference, Putin denied Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process,” Putin said.

Trump accepted that denial.

“He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be.”

Trump and Putin’s statements are at odds with the U.S. intelligence community’s unanimous assessment that Russia interfered in the U.S. election and favored Trump, as well as the conclusion of federal criminal investigators.

During the Fox interview, Putin laughed as Wallace described the Friday indictments and would not touch a physical copy of them when Wallace tried to hand it to him.

Pressed by Wallace on the indictments, Putin said everything that was released through WikiLeaks was accurate

“Was it some rigging of facts? Was it some forgery of facts? That's the important thing that I am trying to — point that I'm trying to make,” Putin said. “Was this — any false information planted? No. It wasn't. These hackers that are being discussed — and I'll get back to it; just bear with me for a moment — as we're getting told, they hacked a certain email account and there was information about manipulations conducted within the Democratic Party to incline the process in favor of one candidate. And as far as I know, the entire party leadership resigned. They admitted the fact of their manipulations.”

Asked if he was saying Russia’s actions are acceptable because it was fact, Putin reiterated that everything that came out was true.

“The information that I am aware of, there's nothing false about it,” Putin said. “Every single grain of it is true. And the Democratic leadership admitted it — the first point.”