‘Watch My Lips: No,’ Putin Says In Response To Election Meddling Charge

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March 30, 2017 9:39 a.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday again denied any efforts on his or Russia’s part to influence the 2016 U.S. election.

In a panel interview moderated by CNBC‘s Geoff Cutmore, Putin was asked to confirm the statement: “You and the Russian government never tried to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, and there will be no evidence found.”

“Ronald Reagan was once debating about taxes and, addressing Americans, said, ‘Watch my lips: No.’ Watch my lips: No,” the Russian President responded, according to CNBC’s translator.

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He got it slightly wrong: It was former President George H.W. Bush who made that promise, and he said “Read my lips.” (Bush also ultimately broke his promise.) But Putin was clear.

“We said on numerous occasions and I reiterate that we are confident … and know for sure that opinion polls in the United States show that very many people are … friendly towards the Russian Federation, and I’d like to tell these people that we perceive and regard the United States as a great power with which we want to establish good partnership relations,” Putin also said, according to CNBC’s transcription.

“All those things are fictional, illusory and provocations, lies,” he added. “All these are used for domestic American political agendas. The anti-Russian card is played by different political forces inside the United States to trade on that and consolidate their positions inside,” Putin said in Russian.”

It’s not the first time the Kremlin has denied meddling in the 2016 elections. In January, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassified part of an intelligence community assessment that found that Putin had “ordered” a cyber campaign to aide Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the report “truly is reminiscent of a witch hunt.”

President Trump also used the term “witch hunt” in response to the report. He used it again a few weeks later in response to scrutiny of Jeff Sessions’ meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the FBI are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including possible connections to and collusion with the Trump campaign.

This post has been updated.

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