Russian President Vladimir Putin has again denied that the Russian government intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, suggesting Friday that American hackers — and perhaps the CIA — could have framed Russia.
In an interview with NBC News’ Megyn Kelly, an excerpt of which the network released Friday, Putin sought to shift blame away from the Russian government.
“Hackers can be anywhere,” he said. “They can even be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very skillfully and professionally shifted the blame, as we say, onto Russia. Can you imagine something like that? In the midst of a political battle?”
Both the FBI and the CIA have determined that Russia intervened in the election to help elect President Donald Trump. The FBI is now investigating whether Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russian officials in those efforts. (Trump and his team have vehemently denied any involvement.)
“By some calculations it was convenient for them to release this information, so they released it, citing Russia,” Putin continued. “Could you imagine something like that? I can.”
According to Kelly, Putin also suggested that the CIA may have framed Russia for the hacking.
Watch the NBC News clip above.
His comments came one day after he said “patriotic” Russian hackers may have attempted to sway the 2016 election, but again insisted there was no state involvement.
The full interview will air Sunday during the premiere of Kelly’s new primetime show, “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.” It’s Kelly’s first major interview for the network, following her departure from Fox News earlier this year.
Despite U.S. intelligence linking Russian officials to efforts to sway the outcome of the election in Trump’s favor — including reports that Putin himself directed the hacks — the Russian president has denied any state involvement in the hacks, which included breaches of Democratic National Committee servers as well as the email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.
“They started this hysteria, saying that this [hacking] is in Russia’s interests. But this has nothing to do with Russia’s interests,” he said in October.