Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that allegations there had been a secret deal between Moscow and Donald Trump before his inauguration as U.S. president were “hysteria” and accused American spies of “crude and systematic widespread interference in Russian affairs for many years.”
Putin, speaking at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum moderated by Megyn Kelly, said “There was nothing concrete, zero. It’s just hysteria” when she asked him about a possible deal between Trump and Moscow, Reuters reported.
Then he tried to calm Megyn Kelly and asked her, “Should I give you a pill?”
He also compared the anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S. to anti-Semitism.
“It’s like saying everything is the Jews’ fault,” said Putin, who placed the blame for Hillary Clinton’s November loss squarely at the feet of the Democratic presidential candidate and members of her party Fox News reported.
Putin deftly brushed off questions about meetings that members of the Trump campaign – including then-Sen. Jeff Sessions – had with Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak.
“So our ambassador met someone. That’s his job. That’s why we pay him,” Putin said, according to a translation. “So what? What’s he supposed to do, hit up the bars?”
He described the focus on Kislyak’s contacts as “catastrophic nonsense.”
Earlier this week, Putin denied the Russian state had directed any hacking operations designed to influence the U.S. election – though he did say Russian “patriots” could have been behind the plot on their own accord. Friday, Putin went a step further, saying the U.S. claims contained “nothing concrete, only assumptions.” He added that IP addresses allegedly belonging to Russian hackers easily could have been rigged and couldn’t stand as evidence.
“A 3-year-old can perpetrate such an attack,” Putin said.
Putin also weighed in on Trump’s decision on Thursday to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Putin said he “wouldn’t blame Trump” for leaving the accord, though he hoped Trump would set new climate change rules.
Joking about the effects of climate change, Putin said “American imperialism” was the reason for Russia’s summer weather.
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