Russian President Vladimir Putin denied rumors he has compromising material on U.S. President Donald Trump and said Moscow did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Putin, speaking in an interview on June 4 on NBC’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, said reports he had anything damaging on Trump were “just another load of nonsense -- where would we get this information from?"
Putin’s comments were translated from Russian into English for the broadcast.
He said there was no need for Moscow to interfere in the presidential election, as has been alleged by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies.
“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."
“It wouldn't make sense for us to interfere," he added.
Putin, however, accused the United States of interfering in foreign elections.
“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.
Putin said he does not have a “special relationship” with the U.S. president, whose team is under investigation for possible links to Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition period.
"We didn't have any relationship at all,” he said. “There was a time when he used to come to Moscow. But you know, I never met with him. We have a lot of Americans who visit us."
Putin also said he had very little contact with Michael Flynn, the former U.S. national security adviser, even though they sat next to each other at a 2015 Moscow dinner.
“When I came to the event for our company, Russia Today, and sat down at the table, next to me there was a gentleman sitting on one side,” Putin told interviewer Kelly.
“I made my speech. Then we talked about some other stuff. And I got up and left. And then afterwards I was told, ‘You know there was an American gentleman. He was involved in some things. He used to be in the security services.’
"That’s it. I didn’t even really talk to him...That’s the extent of my acquaintance with Mr. Flynn,” Putin said.
Flynn has fired by Trump in February after less than a month on the job following claims he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., during the transition period. He has also been accused of not reporting his meeting with Putin and income from Russian sources, such as payments from RT.
Putin also said he had no knowledge of a report by multiple U.S. media outlets of a proposal by Trump son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner to set up a secret communications channel with the Kremlin.
"I don't know about this proposal. No proposal like that came to me," he said.
Putin was asked about reports of longstanding corruption and repression of dissent in Russia.
“Why do you feel you have the right to ask us these kinds of questions? And do it all the time? To moralize and to give us lessons on how to live?" he said.
"We're ready to listen to comments when it is done constructively, with the goal of establishing a relationship, creating a common environment. But we will absolutely not accept when these sorts of things are used as an instrument of political conflict,” he said.
With reporting by NBC, AP, Blomberg, Reuters, and AFP