Russian President Vladimir Putin told CBS former FBI Director James Comey’s firing will have “no effect” on US-Russia relations, in a bizarre rink-side interview on Wednesday.
Putin, dressed in full hockey gear, told CBS correspondent Eliza Palmer through his translator and spokesman Dmitry Peskov that her questions “look very funny to me.”
“Don’t be angry with me,” Putin continued, with Russian pop music blaring in the background. “We have nothing to do with that.”
President Donald Trump abruptly fired Comey on Tuesday evening. The move stunned FBI employees and some Trump administration officials who were left out of the loop, and both congressional Democrats and Republicans criticised the timing of Comey’s firing given the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Putin said that Trump is acting in “accordance with his law and the Constitution.” Putin ended the interview with a friendly invitation for Palmer to play hockey with him.
“You see I am going to play hockey with the hockey players? And I invite you to do the same,” Putin said.
Trump fired Comey via a letter delivered to FBI headquarters, as Comey was giving a talk to FBI employees in Los Angeles. Trump attached letters from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommending Comey be dismissed over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department for more resources for the probe into Russia’s involvement with the Trump campaign days before he was fired.
Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak at the White House on Wednesday, one day after Comey’s ouster. Lavrov appeared to mock reporters during a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when they asked if Comey’s firing would affect relations between the US and Russia.
“Was he fired?” Lavrov said in feigned shock. “You are kidding — you are kidding.” Both Lavrov and Tillerson declined to respond to any further questions.
Trump told reporters following the meeting that Comey was fired because he wasn’t “doing a good job.”
Kislyak is a key figure in the Russia probe, as previously undisclosed conversations he had with former national security adviser Michael Flynn led to Flynn’s firing less than a month into his tenure.
Watch the interview here:
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 10, 2017
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