Fox News’ Chris Wallace may have given Russian President Vladimir Putin the grilling that should have, in all fairness, come from President Donald Trump.
Trump’s performance at the meeting with Putin has been hailed the worst moment of his presidency so far — that’s saying something.
The U.S. president was blasted for his meek behavior in front of the Russian despotic leader but it seems Wallace was taking no prisoners.
In a sit-down interview, little after Trump sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence, Wallace questioned the Russian leader of interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, Trump’s alleged ties with the nation and the Russian investigation, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The tense interview had many jaw dropping moments, as compiled by Huff Post:
1. Putin would not touch the copy of Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials.
This moment in particular, where Wallace tried to physically hand Putin a copy of Mueller's indictment was really something. pic.twitter.com/RuxYJXaiBO— Matt Wilstein (@mattwilstein) July 16, 2018
A grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials amid the ongoing Russian investigation by Mueller in relation with the hacking of the DNC server during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. When presented with the special copy of the indictments, the Russian president would not touch it.
“May I give this to you to look at, sir?” Wallace asked a smiling Putin.
Instead of accepting the documents, Putin directed Wallace to put them at a small table next to them. Wallace reluctantly obliged.
The Fox News anchor later said the Russian despot did not want to touch the documents.
2. Putin denied collecting information on Trump; said he wasn’t important enough.
After spending the entire summit appeasing Putin, the Russian leader’s answer to one particular question might hurt Trump’s feeling.
When asked if Russia has any significant dirt on Trump, which may have resulted in the POTUS not speaking about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Putin denied Trump was ever of any importance to the nation before he became the U.S. president.
“I don’t want to insult President Trump when I say this and I may come as rude, but before he announced he would run for presidency, he was of no interest for us,” Putin said through an interpreter. “He was a rich person, but there are plenty of rich persons in the United States. He was in the construction business. He organized beauty pageants. It never occurred to anyone that he would run for president.”
3. Putin acknowledged Russia hacked the DNC servers but insisted it doesn’t matter.
During the interview, Putin appeared to be defending the Russian hacking of DNC servers but said it did not matter because the hacked information was not forged.
“Was it some forgery of facts?” Putin said. “That’s the important thing point that I am trying to make. Was any false information planted? No, it wasn’t. ... As we’re getting told, they hacked a certain email account, and there was information about manipulations conducted within the Democratic Party to incline the process in favor of one candidate.”
Wallace tried to make sure if the Russian despot was admitting to the hacking — and defending it.
“You’re indicating that they stole real money, not counterfeit money,” Wallace said. “Are you saying it’s OK because facts that they took from the DNC, from John Podesta, it was their real emails so it’s OK to hack and spread this information out and interfere with the election?”
The comparison frustrated Putin, who re-worded his defense but essentially said the same thing.
4. Putin compared his dead opponents to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
Russian President Putin on his political opponents ending up dead: Russia's statehood is maturing and there are some side effects, and we persecute people responsible for these crimes. #WallacePutinOnFox https://t.co/yXKIFfe4pQ pic.twitter.com/iPgyT2YyZO— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 16, 2018
When asked why so many of his political adversaries end up dead, Putin used the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King as examples that the question was unfair.
“All of us have plenty of political rivals. I’m sure Trump has plenty of political rivals,” he said.
While Putin dodged many questions by Wallace, it is safe to say the Russian leader walked out of the highly anticipated summit unscathed, when he should have been confronted on many issues, a feat that Trump refused to take on.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Grigory Dukor