Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a new set of interviews with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, put on a master class in misdirection and what-about-ism in response to questions about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for interfering with the US political process.
In a word, Putin’s attitude toward the allegations could be summarized as: Meh.
Speaking with Putin in Moscow, Kelly asked about the Russian government’s role in the alleged “information warfare” campaign against the United States and what he, as Russia’s leader, knew about it. The goal of that campaign, as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein put it, was “spreading distrust of candidates and political system in general.” But when Kelly pressed Putin about the details of the indictment, the Russian president said, in no uncertain terms, that he didn’t know anything about it and that he couldn’t care less.
“So what if they’re Russians?” Putin said of the people named in the indictment. “There are 146 million Russians. So what?…I don’t care. I couldn’t care less…They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”
Putin went on to claim that his government did not encourage or condone cyberattacks on the United States. He also cast doubt on whether such an attack was even possible. “Could anyone really believe that Russia, thousands of miles away…influenced the outcome of the election? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous even to you?” he said. “It’s not our goal to interfere. We do not see what goal we would accomplish by interfering. There’s no goal.”
And he questioned whether it was Russians at all that carried out the attacks (if they really happened). “Maybe they’re not even Russians,” he said. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”