Putin, on Fox News, rejects election claims as ‘utterly ridiculous’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump is the beginning of Russia’s path back from Western isolation and he denies state-sanctioned Russian interference in the 2016 election. (July 16)
AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin, fresh from being hailed as the victor in his summit with President Trump in Helsinki, took to U.S. television to press his claim that Russia did not tamper with the 2016 presidential election.

“Do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced millions of Americans?” Putin told Fox News commentator Chris Wallace. “This is utterly ridiculous.”

Wallace tried to hand Putin a copy of the indictment handed down last week accusing 12 Russian operatives of hacking Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign. Putin waved the documents off.

“Was there any false information planted? No there wasn’t,” Putin said. He noted that the information indicated top Democratic Party leadership was trying to ensure Hillary Clinton would win the nomination, which resulted in resignations of top party leadership.

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Putin suggested that Democrats should be apologizing instead of trying to find out who leaked the information.

The Russian president was equally dismissive of claims that the Russian government has damaging information about Trump.

“He was in the construction business, he organized beauty pageants,” Putin said, adding that Trump had never expressed interest in the presidency.

PUtin said that hundreds of U.S. businessman more wealthy and powerful than Trump had visited Russia in recent years. Russia “doesn’t have the manpower” to keep a dossier on them all, he said.

“We don’t have anything on them,” Putin said. “I don’t want to insult President Trump when I say this, and I may sound rude, but before he announced that he will run for the presidency, he was of no interest to us.”

Trump drew criticism from Democrats and some Republicans for comments he made at the summit dismissing U.S. intelligence claims that the Russians tampered in the elections. 

“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, said in a statement. “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”

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