In an extensive interview Sunday, Kremlin spokesman and close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s contacts with Trump campaign aides were part of routine duties performed by diplomats.
Mr. Peskov also stated Mr. Kislyak held similar meetings with individuals affiliated with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
After describing the nature of Kislyak’s conversations with Trump campaign officials as fulfilling his duties as ambassador, Peskov was asked by Zakaria if Kislyak held similar meetings with Clinton campaign aides, to which he replied in the affirmative.
“Well, if you look at some people connected with Hillary Clinton during her campaign, you would probably see that he had lots of meetings of that kind, but there were no meetings about elections — electoral process,” he said.
“There are lots of specialists in politology, people working in think tanks advising Hillary or advising people working for Hillary.”
Peskov followed with a declaration that those who attempt to portray meetings Kislyak held with aides to either U.S. presidential candidate in 2016 as untoward and only are only seeking to “demonize” Russia.
Peskov did, however, readily admit Putin favored Trump to the Democratic candidate, saying his boss in the Kremlin viewed Clinton as openly hostile to Russia while Trump was regarded as open to improving relations between the two countries.
Similarly, Peskov took the opportunity in his interview with Zakaria to reject claims of Russian interference in the November election.
Describing alleged Russian hacking as an American “nightmare” Peskov said the claims distract from the prospect of rapprochement and amount to the U.S. beclowning itself.
“We sincerely cannot understand why American people and American politicians started the process of self-humiliation. You’re self-humiliating yourself, saying that a country can intervene in your election process,” Peskov stated.
Peskov continued to say it would be “simply impossible” for Russia to meddle in an American political framework he characterized as filled with “very, very stable political traditions.”
[The Hill] [Politico] [Photo courtesy AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko via The Japan Times]