Russian leader Vladimir Putin clashed with Megyn Kelly in St. Petersburg on Friday, once again insisting that his government played no role in influencing last year’s presidential election through covert hacking.
In perhaps his strongest comments to date, Putin likened the accusations that his government swayed the election — backed by all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies — to prejudice during a St. Petersburg International Economic Forum panel moderated by Kelly, who made her NBC News debut this week.
“It reminds me of anti-Semitism,” he said, per the Associated Press. “A dumb man who can’t do anything would blame the Jews for everything.”
“This is transferring the internal political bickering of the United States beyond the borders of the country outside on the international stage. There is no specific evidence, no facts, just assumptions, allegations and conclusions based on those allegations, nothing more,” he also said, per NBC News.
Although he continued to deny his country’s role in election meddling on Friday, he proclaimed during the forum that hacking is so easy, Kelly’s “underage daughter” could do it.
“IP addresses can be invented — a child can do that! Your underage daughter could do that. That is not proof,” Putin said, per NBC News.
The discussion reportedly grew tenser when Kelly pressed Putin about his country’s alleged collusion with the Trump administration, which sought to end sanctions against the nation. CNBC reported that Putin said “this hysteria” about Trump and Russia “never seems to stop” and asked if a “pill” existed to stop the hysteria.
The combative comments come just one day after Kelly met with Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the trio took part in a state dinner at Konstantin Palace in Saint Petersburg.
Kelly sat down for a one-on-one interview with the Russian leader after the forum, which will air this Sunday on her new NBC show, Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.
And as most of the world shunned Trump following his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, Putin spoke out in support of the president during a business roundtable at the forum on Friday.
“Help us restore normal political dialogue,” Putin told executives from major U.S. companies including Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, Philip Morris and Honeywell. “I ask you on behalf of Russia, and I appeal to the American side: Help the newly elected president, the head of the United States administration.”