Putin denies close ties with former national security adviser Flynn
Russian President Vladimir Putin has played down his relationship with former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying that he “didn’t even really talk to him.”
In a trailer for an interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly released Sunday, the Russian premier says that he sat next to Flynn at a dinner in late 2015, but only made polite small talk. A picture of the two men was widely circulated after President Trump appointed Flynn as his adviser, and fueled speculation about Trump’s ties to Russia. The president fired Flynn in February for his failure to disclose contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and for lying to Vice President Mike Pence.
“You and I, you and I personally,” Putin told Kelly, according to a partial transcript released by the network. “have a much closer relationship than I had with Mr. Flynn. You and I met yesterday evening. You and I have been working together all day today. And now we’re meeting again.”
“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 added. “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.”
The dinner Putin referred to was a gala for the Russian state news agency, RT. Flynn gave a speech at the event – and was paid a $45,000 speaking fee.
Putin’s comments come days before former FBI Director James Comey is due to testify before Congress. He’s expected to be questioned Tuesday about Trump’s alleged efforts to get him to drop the probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — an investigation that concerns Michael Flynn. In May, Flynn said he will plead the fifth and ignore a congressional subpoena from the Senate intelligence committee.
Putin also continued to deny that Russia was involved in any way with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email servers last year. “A child” could have hacked the election, he said.