Saturday 3 December 2016

Donald Trump grants interview to Russia-backed TV network

Published 09/09/2016 | 09:24

Donald Trump has faced a backlash in recent days for praising Russian president Vladimir Putin (AP)
Donald Trump has faced a backlash in recent days for praising Russian president Vladimir Putin (AP)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has told a Russia-funded television network it is "probably unlikely" that Moscow is trying to influence the US election.

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Mr Trump, who has faced a backlash from both parties in recent days for praising Russian president Vladimir Putin, was interviewed by Larry King, the veteran American journalist whose show airs on Thursday evenings on RT America, the US partner of a network originally called Russia Today.

When King asked about reports that US intelligence agencies are investigating whether Russia is trying to disrupt the election, Mr Trump said he was sceptical.

"I think it's probably unlikely. I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out," Mr Trump said, adding: "I hope that if they are doing something, I hope that somebody's going to be able to find out, so they can end it, because that would not be appropriate at all."

Private cybersecurity analysts have blamed Russian intelligence agencies for electronic break-ins into Democratic Party computers, including a breach of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats' campaign arm.

Mr Trump's interview with King was promoted by RT America as an exclusive.

A Trump spokeswoman suggested he was not aware that King's programme was linked to the Russian-backed network.

"Mr Trump recorded a short interview with Larry King for his podcast as a favour to Mr. King," the spokeswoman said. "What Larry King does with the interview content is up to him. We have nothing to do with it."

During a televised forum on Wednesday on national security, Mr Trump complimented Mr Putin for having "great control over his country". The Russian leader has offered kind words for Mr Trump in the past.

"He's been a leader far more than our president has been a leader," Mr Trump said of the Russian president.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, offered Mr Trump a warning when asked about the relationship.

"One has to be a little careful to let flattery affect one's judgment," Mr Corker told CNN.

"Let's face it, over the last several years, president Putin has operated in ways that very much have been against our interests ... in many ways, in a very ruthless manner."

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