Russian President Vladimir Putin may have gotten a pass from President Donald Trump during their highly anticipated meeting in Helsinki on Monday, but he was pressed hard later that day by a Fox News journalist.
In a sit-down interview with anchor Chris Wallace, Putin answered (and dodged) questions about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, his relationship with Trump and why his political adversaries keep turning up dead. Here are four of the most notable moments.
1. Putin refused to hold a copy of the indictments.
Near the beginning of their interview, Wallace presented Putin with a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers as part of the investigation into the hacking of a Democratic National Committee server during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“May I give this to you to look at, sir?” Wallace asked as Putin smirked.
Instead of accepting the documents as Wallace extended them to him, Putin gestured to a side table.
“Here?” Wallace asked after an awkward pause, and then he set them down.
“He did not want to touch it,” Wallace said in his post-interview comments.
2. Putin said he didn’t care about Trump enough to collect dirt on him.
When confronted with theories that Putin has something on Trump that would compel the U.S. president to deny any Russian interference in the 2016 election, Putin gave an answer that might bruise Trump’s ego.
“I don’t want to insult President Trump when I say this, and I may come as rude, but before he announced he would run for presidency, he was of no interest for us,” Putin said through an interpreter. “He was a rich person, but there are plenty of rich persons in the United States. He was in the construction business. He organized beauty pageants. It never occurred to anyone that he would run for president.”
3. Putin came close to acknowledging the hacking. Then he defended it.
At one point, Putin appeared to acknowledge that Russian officials hacked the DNC but suggested it was fair because the information the emails contained was not altered.
“Was it some forgery of facts?” Putin said. “That’s the important thing point that I am trying to make. Was any false information planted? No, it wasn’t. ... As we’re getting told, they hacked a certain email account, and there was information about manipulations conducted within the Democratic Party to incline the process in favor of one candidate.”
Wallace cut him off, turning to a metaphor to show Putin the holes in his argument.
“You’re indicating that they stole real money, not counterfeit money,” Wallace said. “Are you saying it’s OK because facts that they took from the DNC, from John Podesta, it was their real emails so it’s OK to hack and spread this information out and interfere with the election?”
Visibly frustrated, Putin snapped at Wallace. “Listen to me, please,” he said, before delivering a similar defense of hacking.
4. Putin deflected questions about his dead adversaries.
“Why is it that so many of the people that oppose Vladimir Putin end up dead or close to it?” Wallace pressed in one of his final questions, mentioning attacks on former spy Sergei Skripal, political opponent Boris Nemtsov and other Putin critics.
Putin refused to acknowledge the attacks as a pattern linked distinctly to him.
“All of us have plenty of political rivals. I’m sure Trump has plenty of political rivals,” he said.
Putin then pointed to the deaths of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and clashes between police and civilians as evidence that he’s being unfairly asked about attacks on his political rivals.