Russian President Vladimir Putin compared Hillary Clinton and others who accuse Russia of conducting cyberattacks against the Democratic Party to anti-Semites who say "the Jews are to blame" for various problems.
"It's easy to say it's not our fault, it's the Russians, they intervened, they interfered," Putin said through a translator during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday morning. "It's like antisemitism. ‘The Jews are to blame; you are an idiot because the Jews are to blame.' And you know what, such moods are — they will end up in nothing good."
Putin cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusions that Russia was behind the cyberattacks against the Democratic Party. He said there is no evidence of his government's involvement and that it could have been faked. He also insisted that, in any case, the information released by the hackers was true.
"We should stop this idle prattle, which is harmful and I believe is like transferring the internal bickering of the United States outside of the country," Putin said during a panel moderated by NBC's Megyn Kelly.
Putin, after Kelly reminded him that President Trump has acknowledged Russia's responsibility for the cyberattacks, seemed to suggest the hacks would have been justified if his team were responsible for them.
"Look at what your colleagues are doing in our country," he said. "They have been deep down in our domestic policies, doing what they want, enjoying themselves on a systemic basis for many years. They've unceremoniously, grossly interfered within our domestic affairs at the level of diplomatic embassies. This has to stop and it's going to be easier for everyone — for you and for us as well."
He also noted that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was forced to resign her post as head of the Democratic National Committee due to hacked emails showing that the DNC staffers were biased in favor of the Clinton campaign. "So that was a truthful fact and who was the author of the leak? It does not matter," Putin said.
When Kelly reiterated that state-run media outlets were accused of pushing "disinformation," he cited the DNC episode once again. "Megyn has been demonstrating today high class in her profession, because I have just cited an example that points out that there was no disinformation, no matter who was behind that leak about the Democratic Party," Putin said. "Once again, she says it was about disinformation. What kind of disinformation? I can't see any manifestation thereof."
Russian-controlled networks such as RT operated "as part of its influence efforts to denigrate" Clinton, according to the declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The report cited various negative stories, including two featuring WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange. One suggested that "Clinton and ISIS Funded by the Same Money" and another suggested that the hacked emails would lead to her imprisonment.
RT also published stories on "Pizzagate," a conspiracy theory alleging that Clinton was part of a pedophilia ring in Washington, based on emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's email account. Those reports contributed to online furor over the story, which was false.
Putin dismissed the idea that U.S. intelligence services or private security companies should be regarded as nonpartisan or credible. "There are no independent sources in this world," he said.