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Putin denies having blackmail on Trump in contentious interview

Business Insider Australia logo Business Insider Australia 6/06/2017 Eliza Relman

Video provided by CNBC

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed a question from NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly about whether the Russian government possesses damaging information about President Donald Trump, calling the allegation "nonsense."

Kelly asked the Russian leader if he "had anything damaging on our president" during an interview that aired on Kelly's Sunday show. She noted that Trump's refusal to release his tax returns, the reported existence of a secret Russian dossier containing compromising information about Trump, and reports that Trump's campaign communicated with the Kremlin had raised concerns among some Americans that Trump is hiding information that the Russian government might be aware of.

"This is just another load of nonsense," Putin said. "Where would we get this information from? Why, did we have some special relationship with him? We didn't have any relationship at all."

Putin, who has been in power for 17 years, claimed that his government treated Trump just like all the other Americans who visit Russia on business, arguing that it would be nonsensical to collect compromising information on all of them. He told Kelly that he had never met with Trump during the then-businessman's visits to Moscow.  

"Right now, I think we have representatives from a hundred American companies that have come to Russia," Putin said. "Do you think we're gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something?"

He appeared irritated by Kelly's line of questioning, adding, "Have you all lost your senses over there?"

Since the election, reporting has revealed that Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, met with several top Trump campaign advisers during the campaign and presidential transition, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. And recent reports allege that Kushner attempted to establish a secret line of communication between the Trump transition team and the Russian government.

Last week, CNN reported that Russian officials discussed having potentially "derogatory" financial information about Trump and his aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence officials. 

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