Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday compared claims that Moscow meddled in the U.S. presidential election to anti-Semitism.
“It’s easy to say it’s not our fault, it’s … the Russians, they intervened, they interfered,” Putin told moderator Megyn Kelly of NBC News during a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, according to a translation. “It’s like anti-Semitism! The Jews are to blame. You are an idiot because the Jews are to blame.”
The comment elicited big laughs from some in the audience.
A plethora of U.S. intelligence agencies and senior officials in both President Trump and Barack Obama’s administrations have accused the Kremlin of interfering in the 2016 election through hacking and other forms of influence. The U.S. alleged that Russian-backed hackers released troves of emails to WikiLeaks from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
On Thursday, Putin suggested that “patriotically minded” cyber intruders may have been behind the attack, but insisted that their marching orders did not come from Moscow.
During his Friday discussion, Putin went on to echo Trump’s position that ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election are based on “fake news” created by the Democrats as an excuse for Clinton’s electoral loss.
Democrats, Putin argued, “are trying to shirk responsibility,” dismissing Russian hacking allegations by telling Kelly that “your girl, who is 3 years old, can perpetrate such an attack.”
“They made a mistake and they don’t want to recognize this mistake right now,” he said of Clinton and the Democratic Party. “They don’t want to say that they were not wise enough.”
The Russian president went on to praise the Trump administration for being “more efficient” than he’d expected.
“During the electoral campaign, sometimes I thought, ‘he overdoes, he overkills,’” Putin said. “But it turns out he was right.”
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