Kremlin: Clinton team 'probably also met Russian ambassador'
The Kremlin's spokesman sought to dismiss controversy over links between Russia and Donald Trump's administration by claiming Hillary Clinton's team had also "probably" met with the Russian ambassador during the election campaign.
Dmitry Peskov declined to name any individuals in an interview with CNN in which he said America was "self-humiliating" in insisting that Russia had intervened to help Donald Trump get elected.
Mrs Clinton's team is yet to comment on the allegations, but earlier this month 'Foreign Policy' reported that no one from her campaign met with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, or any other Russian official. The magazine also reported that the other candidates kept the embassy "at arm's length".
The house intelligence committee will hold its first session on Russia a week from today, with the heads of the FBI, National Security Agency and CIA expected to appear, plus previous intelligence chiefs. Mr Peskov defended the actions of Mr Kislyak, whose meeting with Michael Flynn, Mr Trump's national security adviser, caused Mr Flynn to lose his job.
He was fired after just 24 days when it became clear he had lied about meeting the Russian, and misled the vice president.
"This is his job," Mr Peskov, speaking on CNN's Sunday morning politics show, said. "He was talking about bilateral relations, about what is going on in the United States, so we have a better understanding in Moscow. This is what happens all around the world."
Referring to meetings between members of Mrs Clinton's team and Mr Kislyak, he said: "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."
Mr Trump's administration has been dogged by a steady drip of reports about seemingly shadowy ties to Russia, which have infuriated the president.
Mr Putin, Mr Peskov said, was pleased that Mr Trump defeated Mrs Clinton. "The candidate Hillary Clinton was quite negative - declaring Russia the main evil, the main threat," he said.
"Whom would you like better - the one that says Russia is evil? Or the one that says yes we disagree, but let's find points of agreement."
He said his initial contact with Mr Trump was "quite promising", but that Russia was increasingly disappointed with the Trump administration.
"We don't have a proper understanding of the future," he said.