Putin denies pre-election US contacts

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Picture: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied knowledge of a reported pre-inauguration proposal by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner to set up a secret, bug-proof communications channel with the Kremlin.

In an interview aired on NBC on Sunday, Putin again flatly denied US intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia meddled via hacking and other means in the US election to help Trump win.

He said there might have been non-Russian hackers from anywhere who had simply blamed Russia.

This charge – and even more damning suggestions that the Trump administration actually colluded in such an effort – are at the core of a highstakes probe by a US special counsel and congressional committees.

Trump’s most ardent critics are already talking of impeachment.

Putin also said he had no idea whether the Russian ambassador to Washington had held contacts with the Trump campaign before the November election.

“I’m being honest. Do you think that from all over the world and the United States, the ambassador reports to me every day who he eats with or meets?” Putin asked.

He also denied that Russia had any information on Trump to influence him, saying: “This is just another load of nonsense. Where would we get this information? Did we have a special relationship with him?

“We didn’t have any relationship at all. Have you all lost your senses over there?” he asked.

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