• Putin denies knowledge of secret channel proposal

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    WASHINGTON: Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has no knowledge of a reported pre-inauguration proposal by President Donald Trump’s son in law and top aide Jared Kushner to set up a secret, bug-proof communications channel with the Kremlin.

    In an interview aired Sunday on NBC, Putin again flatly denied US intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia meddled via hacking and other means in the US election to help Trump win. He said there may have been non-Russian hackers from anywhere that simply blamed Russia.

    This charge—and even more damning suggestions that the Trump administration actually colluded in such an effort—are at the core of a high stakes probe by a US special counsel and congressional committees. Trump’s most ardent critics are already talking of impeachment.

    Putin also said he had no idea if the Russian ambassador to Washington had held contacts with the Trump campaign before the November election.

    “I’m being honest. Do you think that from all over the world and the United States, the ambassador reports to me every day who he eats with or meets with,” said Putin.

    And Putin denied that Russia had any information on Trump to influence him.

    “Well, this is just another load of nonsense. Where would we get this information from? Did we have a special relationship with him? We didn’t have any relationship at all. … Have you all lost your senses over there?” Putin asked.

    The Washington Post has reported that in a New York meeting in December with the Russian ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kislyak, the 36 year old Kushner suggested setting up a back channel of communications with Moscow.

    Putin, in the interview with journalist Megyn Kelly in St. Petersburg, said: “I don’t know about this proposal. No proposal like that came to me.”

    Putin said that, had there been a proposal and it were appealing to the Russians, his foreign minister would have told him.

    AFP

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