Putin's dinner with Michael Flynn: I didn't even really talk to him

Vladimir Putin has clarified an earlier claim that "patriotic" hackers could have meddled in the 2016 US presidential election, suggesting that American hackers could have sabotaged the results and used Russian Federation as a scapegoat.

"By some calculations it was convenient for them to release this information, so they released it, citing Russia", Putin continued. "Is this possible? Theoretically, yes".

Speaking to NBC News' Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, Mr Putin said he recalled the dinner in question as a routine event. He said he had yet to see any evidence of Russian meddling and drew a connection between the allegations against Russia and the theory that US intelligence agencies arranged the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. "This is happening in no small part because of Russia's fight for its interests, its legitimate interests".

Kelly, who was a prime-time star on Fox News Channel, moved to NBC at the start of this year. "They can be in Russian Federation, in Asia, even in America - Latin America".

Putin's comments come days before former FBI Director James Comey is due to testify before Congress.

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Kelly asked Putin if he was holding any kind of damaging information about Trump, either involving Trump's finances or a visit Trump made to Russian Federation as a businessman.

During the interview with NBC, Mr Putin also reportedly suggested the Central Intelligence Agency may have framed Russian Federation for the hacking. "We didn't have any relationship at all", the Russian president said. There's nothing to even talk about. Do you think we're gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something?

Putin told Kelly that he doesn't know Flynn, even though he sat next to him at a dinner in Moscow in 2015. "That's the extent of my acquaintance with Mr Flynn", he added. It has reportedly expanded to include the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to Trump, as well as his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The December 2015 dinner was in honour of the Russian television network Russia Today (RT), a Russian government-funded global network that USA officials consider a state-run propaganda outlet and purveyor of disinformation about the U.S.French President Emmanuel Macron, standing next to Putin in Paris last week, publicly denounced Russia Today and the state-funded Sputnik news agency as "agents of influence. and of lying propaganda" that had spread "fake news" against him during his campaign for Paris's top post in May. "You created a sensation out of nothing". "Not for the United States, but the leadership".

Senators will be grilling fired FBI chief James Comey on Thursday about an Oval Office meeting in February at which, Comey later told aides, Trump asked him to end the investigation into Flynn and possible Russian Federation links, saying, "I hope you can let this go".

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