Vladimir Putin stirred the pot over questions by NBC’s Megyn Kelly about the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and the alleged attempt to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election.
In a segment previewing the wide-ranging interview of the Russian leader, Putin refuted the idea that his government knew of or had any involvement with the efforts that resulted in charges being brought against 13 Russians by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Why would you allow an attack like this on the United States?” Kelly asked Putin in the exclusive interview taped over two days last week in Russia.
“Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this?” the Russian president responded. “Nothing has changed since you and I talked last time in St. Petersburg.”
“Some names have popped up,” he continued. “So what? They could just as easily have been the names of some Americans who are sitting here and interfering in your own political process.”
“But it wasn’t Americans,” Kelly interjected. “It was Russians.”
Putin has repeatedly denied the involvement of his country in any part of the election process, and pushed back at Kelly.
“The world is very large. You mentioned a number of names, some individuals. And you’re telling me that they’re Russians. So what?” Putin said.
“Maybe being Russian, they’re actually working for some kind of American company. Perhaps one of them used to work for one of the candidates. I have no idea,” he said.
“These are not my problems,” he added.
In another clip previewed this week, the Russian leader made it clear the Kremlin had no plans to extradite those indicted by Mueller, even though he said the individuals “do not represent the Russian state.”
“Never,” he said in response to Kelly’s question on extradition. “Russia does not extradite its citizens to anyone.”
The full interview, which reportedly features Kelly asking Putin about his shirtless photos, is set to air in an NBC News special, Confronting Putin, at 10 p.m. EST Friday night.
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