Putin rejects accusations of meddling in
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[October 13, 2016]
By James Oliphant and Katya Golubkova
WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian
President Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday his country was not
involved in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election even
as WikiLeaks released another trove of internal documents from Hillary
Last week, the U.S. government formally accused Russia of launching a
hacking campaign to “interfere with the U.S. election process.”
Clinton’s campaign, which has charged the Kremlin is trying to help
Republican Donald Trump win the White House on Nov. 8, took its
allegations a step further on Tuesday when John Podesta, chairman of the
Democratic nominee’s campaign, accused the Trump campaign of colluding
At events in Florida, Trump said he had nothing to do with Putin or
"I promise you, I don't have any business deals with Russia," Trump said
at a rally in Lakeland.
In Moscow, Putin said nothing in the hacking scandal is in Russia’s
interests and accused all sides in the U.S. presidential campaign of
misusing rhetoric about Russia for their own purposes.
“They started this hysteria, saying this (hacking) is in Russia’s
interests, but this has nothing to do with Russia’s interests,” Putin
told a business forum.
Putin said his government would work with whoever won the U.S. election,
"if, of course, the new U.S. leader wishes to work with our country."
WikiLeaks, the organization started by Julian Assange that publishes
leaked information on the internet, this week released thousands of
emails from Podesta’s email account and has not said how it obtained
them. Last week, it posted excerpts from Clinton’s private speeches to
banking and financial firms.
The Clinton campaign has not confirmed the authenticity of the messages.
The leaks, coming as the election campaign reaches the final stretch,
have the potential to embarrass the Clinton camp. In recent days,
however, Trump's own campaign has been in deeper trouble over the
emergence of a 2005 video in which Trump bragged about groping women.
Many Republican elected officials have turned their back on him and
Clinton's lead in national opinion polls has increased.
Trump escalated his attacks on U.S. House of Representatives Speaker
Paul Ryan on Wednesday, deepening a fracture in the Republican Party.
Clinton, a former secretary of state, has repeatedly accused Trump of
having overly friendly ties with Putin and Russia.
She has noted that Trump’s foreign policies have tended to align with
Russian’s interests, whether it has been questioning NATO’s role in
defending Eastern Europe, failing to recognize Russia’s intrusion into
Ukraine, and supporting Russia’s actions in Syria.
Trump, a New York businessman who has never previously run for office,
has shifted his policies on a wide range of issues, from taxes to the
minimum wage to immigration during his White House campaign but his
statements on Russia have been consistent. His friendly stance toward
Moscow departs from the views of many prominent Republicans.
During a presidential debate on Sunday, Trump publicly disagreed with
his own vice presidential choice, Mike Pence, who had called for a more
hawkish approach toward Russia.
"I DON'T KNOW PUTIN"
At that debate, Trump questioned whether Russia was behind the hacks, as
the U.S. government has asserted. And on Wednesday, during a rally in
Ocala, Florida, Trump echoed those remarks.
“Have you ever noticed, anything that goes wrong they blame Russia?"
Trump told the crowd. "They always blame Russia and then they says
Donald Trump is friends . . . I don’t know Putin, folks. What the hell
do I have to do with Putin?”
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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the annual VTB Capital
"Russia Calling!" Investment Forum in Moscow, Russia, October 12,
2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin via REUTERS
Trump has said that as president he would seek warmer relations with
Russia and that it would be in the United States' best interests to
seek Russia's help to defeat Islamic State.
“Trump is the most pro-Russian presidential candidate ever,” said
Max Boot, a senior fellow for national security studies at the
Council of Foreign Relations. “Putin no doubt sees a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reorient U.S. foreign policy in
his direction by electing Trump.”
A Russian ultra-nationalist ally of Putin who is known for his fiery
rhetoric said Trump was the only person able to de-escalate
dangerous tensions between Moscow and Washington, and predicted
nuclear war if Clinton were elected.
"Relations between Russia and the United States can't get any worse.
The only way they can get worse is if a war starts," Vladimir
Zhirinovsky, a flamboyant veteran lawmaker, told Reuters.
Clinton campaign chairman Podesta said on Tuesday the FBI was
investigating a “criminal hack” of his emails, and he tied the Trump
campaign to the leaks by suggesting that a former Trump adviser,
Roger Stone, had advance warning of the hacks.
The Trump campaign has not responded to the allegation about Stone,
but Trump has denied any coordination with the Russian government to
He has, however, made clear he supports WikiLeaks’ efforts. “I love
WikiLeaks,” he said at a rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
The United States has an ongoing criminal investigation into
Assange’s publishing of classified material. Clinton has been a
fierce critic of Assange, who remains at the Ecuadorean embassy in
London where he sought refuge in 2012 to avoid possible extradition
Last week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and
Department of Homeland Security said the government was confident
the hacks of Democratic political groups and campaign officials
originated from high levels of the Russian government.
The White House on Tuesday promised a “proportional” response to
Russia over the hacks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told CNN the United States
has offered no proof of his government’s involvement, and suggested
Moscow was unconcerned about possible reprisals.
“If they decided to do something, let them do it,” Lavrov said.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Amanda Becker, Ginger
Gibson, Mark Hosenball, Luciana Lopez and Alexander Winning; Writing
by James Oliphant; Editing by Frances Kerry and Alistair Bell)
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