A mere five days after Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said that "Russian intelligence services" hacked into the DNC, Vladimir Putin denied that Russia was involved at all.
“There’s no need to distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it,” Putin said, according to Bloomberg Politics. “But I want to tell you again: I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level, Russia has never done this.”
Clinton had indicated on Aug. 28 that it was clear Russia was behind the hack and questioned GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's relationship with Putin: "We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC and we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin."
Trump has complimented Putin on several occasions, going so far as to say he was a stronger leader than President Barack Obama. The Republican presidential hopeful also once asked Russia to assist in a state-level hacking of Clinton's emails: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump told reporters, notes Reuters.
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Emails released shortly before the Democratic National Convention showed DNC heads discussing how to thwart the campaign of Clinton's primary rival, Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Ultimately, DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in the wake of those leaks.
Putin and Clinton have historically had an acrimonious relationship, but the Russian leader continued to deny any involvement with the hack.
"Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data?’’ Putin said in an interview on Sept. 1. “The important thing is the content that was given to the public.’’
Putin did, however, take the opportunity to criticize Clinton's campaign again, implying he found it difficult to imagine that Americans would be shocked by the information revealed in the DNC leak, "specifically that the campaign headquarters worked in the interest of one of the candidates -- in this case, Mrs. Clinton -- rather than equally for all of the Democratic party candidates."
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U.S. officials strongly believe Russia was behind the scandal, however, and reportedly were able to tie the DNC hacks to the Russian government, indicating that hackers were guided by the Putin administration.