Vladimir Putin says he did not know President Donald Trump was in Moscow during alleged "pee-tape," but does not outright deny recordings

By Emily Davies
July 16, 2018 02:26 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin chuckled Monday over rumors that the Russian government had collected “compromising material” on Donald Trump before he was president, but never outright denied the existence of the infamous “pee-pee tape.”

At a press conference following more than two hours of meetings with Trump in Helsinki, Finland, Putin was asked by a reporter point-blank: “Do you— does the Russian government—have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?”

With Trump’s wife, First Lady Melania Trump, seated in the front row, Putin was silent for a long pause before chuckling and then answering—without actually denying the existence of a videotape.

The long-rumored and unconfirmed allegation—which was included in the Steele dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer during the 2016 presidential campaign—is that Russian intelligence agents filmed Trump with female prostitutes in a Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel room in 2013 as he instructed the women to urinate on the bed.

“Yeah, I did hear these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow,” Putin said on Monday.

Addressing the reporter, the Russian president continued: “Distinguished colleague, let me tell you this: when President Trump was in Moscow back then, I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect. But back then, when he was a private individual—a businessman—nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.”

“But let’s take the St. Petersburg economic forum, for instance. There were over 500 American businessman—high-ranking, high-level ones. I don’t even remember the last names of each and every one of them. Do you think that we tried to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them? Well, it’s difficult to imagine an utter nonsense on a bigger scale than this. Well please just disregard these issues and don’t think any more about this any more again,” Putin concluded.

At that point, Trump jumped in: “And I have to say, if they had it, it would have been out long ago.”

Chris McGrath/Getty

Some Twitter users took Putin’s response as an indication that the “pee-pee tape” does exist.

“Planning a Pee Tape viewing party now!” one user Tweeted. “Puting doesn’t deny the pee tape could be real.”

“Wow, so the pee tape does exist,” another user wrote.

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The unconventional Helsinki summit was not the only time the “pee tape” has made headlines recently. On Monday, Senator Jeff Merkely told BuzzFeed News that he thinks Russia has “something like” the alleged “pee tape” on Trump.

Trump was president-elect when former FBI Director James Comey first briefed Trump, privately, on the unconfirmed allegations from the dossier. Comey later described that briefing in his memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, and said that Trump asked for an FBI investigation of the alleged existence of the “pee tape” in order to reassure First Lady Melania Trump that he was not with hookers that night. Trump denied Comey’s assertion, later tweeting “James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR.”