Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that a 3-year-old could have hacked the U.S. election and that his country was not responsible.
Putin said that U.S. intelligence, which concluded Moscow was behind the election meddling in hopes of helping President Donald Trump win, “invented” evidence that pointed to Russia.
“IP addresses can be invented,” Putin told NBC News’ Megyn Kelly in a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia Friday. “A 3-year-old can perpetrate such an attack.”
Despite the conclusion from the U.S. intelligence community that hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign was directed by Russia, Putin maintains his country was not involved. He compared repeated U.S. assertions that Moscow deliberately tried to undermine Clinton to “anti-Semitism” and said it was like “blaming the Jews.”
“This is disinformation,” Putin said through a translator, saying there was no “proof” Russia was responsible.
During the campaign, Trump similarly dismissed increasing alarm in the U.S. that Russia was purposefully targeting the U.S. political system. He said “someone sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds” could have been behind the hacks.
Putin said Thursday that “patriotic” Russians could have been involved, but covered their tracks to make it seem like the operation was run by the Russian government.
The FBI is currently investigating Russian influence on the presidential election and any possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. The Justice Department appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to oversee the case after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. Congress is also investigating.
Probes have centered on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired three weeks into his tenure after lying about his contact with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak and former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is also reportedly a person of interest in the case, which does not mean he is suspected of committing a crime.
Putin on Friday also echoed a popular talking point of Trump’s, that investigations into ties with Russia is a fake story put forth by Democrats bitter they lost the election.
“The other team, they made a mistake,” Putin said of Democrats. “They don’t want to recognize this mistake right now.”
Trump frequently tweets that the Russia investigation is “fake news” and said in a television interview he fired Comey because “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
Putin will also participate in a one-on-one interview with Kelly, which will air on NBC on Sunday night.