NBC’s Megyn Kelly confronted the long-standing Russian President with an indictment filed by special counsel Robert Mueller, which pointed the finger at 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 vote.
The Russian strongman, who is up for re-election this month, fired back angrily asking: ”Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this?”
He attempted to put blue water between the individuals and companies accused by Mr Mueller, and the Russian state.
Mr Putin said: “So what if they’re Russians? There are 146 million Russians. So what? I don’t care. I couldn’t care less. They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.
“Maybe they’re not even Russians. Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card.
“Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”
He also demanded the US Department of Justice provide authorities in Russia with information. Mr Mueller’s indictment alleged the Russians ‘defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump… and disparaging Hillary Clinton”.
Mr Putin said: “We in Russia cannot prosecute anyone as long as they have not violated Russian law. At least send us a piece of paper… Give us a document. Give us an official request and we’ll take a look at it.
“Could anyone really believe that Russia, thousands of miles away… influenced the outcome of the election? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous even to you?
“It’s not our goal to interfere. We do not see what goal we would accomplish by interfering. There’s no goal.”
The exchange comes amid increased tensions between Russian’s and the West after the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in the English town of Salisbury.
The 66-year-old and his 33-year-old daughter were found slumped on a bench in the city, suffering the effects of what is thought to be a nerve agent.
Reports are emerging that intelligence chiefs feel they have enough evidence to formally accuse Russia of the attack. Theresa May is chairing a meeting of the National Security Council on Monday to discuss the incident.