The highly anticipated debut of Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly on NBC failed to reveal much that was new from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who used the sit down with the former Fox News star to mock any suggestion that he has any kind of relationship with President Donald Trump. As he has done numerous times before, Putin got a bit feisty when Kelly asked him about the role Russia might have played in the presidential election. The U.S. intelligence agencies who say Moscow was involved “have been misled,” Putin said. “They aren’t analyzing the information in its entirety. I haven’t seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election.”
Putin said hackers anywhere in the world, including the United States, could make it seem like the interference came from Russia. To support his assertion, he even mentioned “a theory that Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United States intelligence services.” If the theory can’t be ruled out, “then what could be easier, in this day and age, than using all the technical means at the disposal of the intelligence services, and using those means to organize some attacks and then pointing the finger at Russia.”
Plus, Putin added, it’s the United States that regularly interferes with electoral campaigns around the world. “Put your finger anywhere on a map of the world, and everywhere you will hear complaints that American officials are interfering in internal electoral processes,” he said. When Kelly said that sounded like a justification, Putin said the whole thing was irrelevant anyway. “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” he said. “But, I repeat, we don’t even have to do that. Presidents come and go, and even the parties in power change, but the main political direction does not change.”
The interview was tense at certain points, with Putin calling Kelly’s question about whether the Kremlin has any compromising information on Trump “a load of nonsense.” Even though there was a time when Trump went to Moscow “I never met with him. We have a lot of Americans who visit us.” Lots of powerful Americans go to Russia, he added. “Do you think we’re gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something? Have you all lost your senses over there?”
Putin said he didn’t know anything about Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner attempting to set up a secret communications channel with Russia. At one point Putin openly mocked Kelly’s line of questioning, saying, “You people are so creative over there. Good job. Your lives must be boring.”
When the conversation turned to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Putin flat out rejected that the two had any sort of relationship. Although Flynn sat next to Putin at a 2015 dinner, the Russian leader said the two barely spoke. “You and I, you and I personally, have a much closer relationship than I had with Mr. Flynn,” Putin told Kelly. “You and I met yesterday evening. You and I have been working together all day today. And now we’re meeting again.” Putin said he didn’t even know Flynn had anything to do with U.S. intelligence services until afterward.
Despite the evident tension on camera, in an interview, Kelly described Putin as “very personable” when the cameras were off.