Aaron Rupar/Think Progess
Collusion can happen right out in the open.
During a forum hosted by NBC’s Megyn Kelly on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin adopted a talking point from President Donald Trump to dismiss the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian hackers attacked Democratic targets as part of a state-orchestrated effort to meddle in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf.
“Your girl that is 3-years-old can perpetrate such an attack,” Putin told Kelly (via a translator). “These specialists can invent anything, and then they will blame someone else… The problem is inside the American policy. The Trump team [was] more efficient during the electoral campaign.”
Putin tells @megynkelly "a 3-year-old can perpetrate such an attack" on US election hacking allegations https://t.co/u0OhmosP7H— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 2, 2017
Putin’s comment about a child being just as capable of carrying out hacks as a “specialist” echoes what Trump himself said about cyberattacks during the first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton.In response to Clinton’s claim that “there’s no doubt now that Russia has used cyberattacks against all kinds of organizations in our country, and I am deeply concerned about this,” Trump said it actually could’ve been “someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
Putin’s comments on Friday weren’t the first time he and Trump shared talking points this week. During an interview with a French newspaper that took place Monday, Putin said the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions about Russia-orchestrated cyberattacks and election meddling are a “fiction” motivated by the “desire of those who lost the U.S. elections to improve their standing by accusing Russia of interfering.”
Hours later, Trump posted this tweet:
Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
Last month, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that Russian officials, emboldened by Trump’s election, are still actively trying to influence U.S. politics. Trump fired Comey days later despite an ongoing FBI investigation into Trump’s campaign for possible collusion with Russia.
On Thursday, Putin came closer than he ever has to admitting the Kremlin’s role in meddling in Trump’s election. While he denied direct Kremlin involvement in cyberattacks on Clinton and other Democratic targets, he told reporters that “patriotically minded” hackers might have acted on their own.
“If they are patriotically minded, they start making their contributions — which are right, from their point of view — to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia,” Putin said.
Trump has similarly denied direct involvement in Russian collusion, while refusing to rule out that his associates might have been involved.
Kelly’s forum with Putin followed the former Fox News host’s disastrous first interview for for NBC. During a person-on-the-street segment from Saint Petersburg, Russia, Kelly got played by a Russian propagandist she introduced to viewers as merely a “Russian broadcaster.”
Asked about Russian election meddling, that propagandist — whose views Kelly portrayed as representing those of everyday Russians—said, “[t]here is a lot of kindergartenish stuff going on.”
“It’s humiliating — self-humiliating for such a great country as the United States of America to think that your election was decided in Moscow,” he added.