Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly denied he had any compromising material about U.S. President Donald Trump in a sometimes combative televised interview broadcast on Sunday.
“Well, this is just another load of nonsense,” Putin said on NBC News’ “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly,” when asked whether he had any damaging information on the Republican president.
The remarks were the latest in a series of denials from Moscow that have had little impact so far on a political crisis in the United States over potential links between Russia and Trump’s inner circle.
The issue will be front and center this week in Washington, where former FBI Director James Comey is due to testify on whether Trump tried to get him to back off an investigation into alleged ties between Trump’s election campaign and Moscow.
Comey, who was leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election, was fired by Trump last month, four years into his 10-year term.
Putin also told NBC he had no relationship with Trump and never met him, regardless of Trump’s previous travel to Russia as a businessman. Putin noted that executives from perhaps 100 American companies were currently in Russia.
“Do you think we’re gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something?” Putin asked, before saying: “Have you all lost your senses?”
Trump has offered contradictory accounts of his relationship with Putin over time but has also said the two never met. He has called an FBI investigation into alleged ties between his campaign and Russia a “witch hunt” designed to undermine the legitimacy of his 2016 election win.
Trump has also disparaged a dossier of unsubstantiated allegations that purported to show Russian intelligence operatives had compromising information about him, but which he has described as a “hoax.”
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Moscow tried to tilt the election campaign in Trump’s favor, including by hacking into the emails of senior Democrats, a charge the Kremlin denies.
“They have been misled,” Putin told NBC, in an interview NBC said was recorded on Friday. “And they aren’t analyzing the information in its entirety. I haven’t seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the (U.S.) presidential election.”
Trump has denied any collusion but the FBI and congressional probes into the Russia matter have dogged the early months of his presidency.