Trump: Putin probably involved in assassinations, poisonings, but not in US

File photo of US President Donald Trump at a news conference with Russia's President Vladimir Putin after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018.
File photo of US President Donald Trump at a news conference with Russia's President Vladimir Putin after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump said he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin "probably" has been involved in assassinations and poisonings, but he appeared to dismiss the gravity of those actions, noting that they have not taken place in the United States.

"Probably he is, yeah. Probably," Mr Trump told CBS' Lesley Stahl when asked during an interview on 60 Minutes whether he thinks Mr Putin is involved "in assassinations, in poisonings".

"But... it's not in our country," Mr Trump added.

A long line of Russian dissidents, journalists and others critical of Mr Putin have been poisoned or died under mysterious circumstances. In one of the most recent cases, Mr Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter were poisoned in Britain, allegedly by Russian operatives. Russia denies any involvement in the attack.

Mr Trump's remarks echoed recent comments he made about Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who is missing.

Mr Trump has vowed "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if the US determines that Saudi agents killed Mr Khashoggi, but he has also noted that the columnist's disappearance "took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen".

Mr Trump acknowledged that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign, but he sought to blame other countries as well. "They meddled. But I think China meddled too," he said.

 
 

The interview, aired on Sunday, marks his first appearance on 60 Minutes as President. He was previously interviewed for the programme as president-elect in November 2016. Asked what his biggest regret has been as President, he first said that the media "treats me terribly".

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2018, with the headline 'Trump: Putin probably involved in assassinations, poisonings, but not in US'. Print Edition | Subscribe