Vladimir Putin Jokes About Meddling In 2020 Election: “Don’t Tell Anybody”
Speaking before a panel at Russian Energy Week in Moscow, Putin responded to a question about the country potentially meddling in next year’s American elections by quipping that his government would do this, but in a clandestine way.
“I’m going to tell you a secret. Yes, sure. We’re going to do that,” said Putin. “Don’t tell anybody.” The former KGB agent’s remarks drew both applause and laughter.
“I’ll tell you a secret: Yes, of course we’ll do it to finally make you happier. Just don’t tell anyone.”
— The Hill (@thehill) October 3, 2019
Several U.S. intelligence agencies and congressional committees have determined that Russia intervened in the 2016 elections to benefit Trump through coordinated efforts on social media and by hacking election databases, among other plots that targeted Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. However, Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately found earlier this year that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Trump’s 2016 campaign team colluded with the Russian government during the election.
After Mueller’s two-year investigation ended in May, Putin called the probe “objective” and praised the former special counsel for finding “no traces” of collusion. Putin elaborated on his feelings about Mueller’s inquiry on Wednesday and also seized on the opportunity to criticize American lawmakers for probing Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukraine’s president.
“The fact that myself and Mr. Trump have a close relationship doesn’t mean that it’s in any way affecting the current political environment within the U.S.,” said Putin. “We see that (the United States) is trying to use any pretext to attack Mr. Trump, and now they’re even trying to use Ukraine.”
“We have our own problems,” the Russian leader added. “Why would we interfere anywhere?”
Putin also remarked on the controversy engulfing Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s president by saying he supports full transparency in releasing the contents of one-on-one conversations between world leaders. The Russian president noted that after he and Trump met for a summit in Helsinki in July 2018, the Kremlin requested that the White House release the details of their discussion.
“When there were attempts to launch a scandal regarding my meeting with Trump in Helsinki — we directly told the administration to just publish it,” Putin said. “If somebody wants to know something — just publish it, we don’t mind.”