Russian President Vladimir Putin found himself on the defensive Friday when asked by NBC News' Megyn Kelly to explain his earlier claim that private "patriotic" hackers could have interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Putin, in an exclusive interview with Kelly, insisted the hackers could have come from "anywhere" and then they could have — in a savvy and professional way — shifted the blame to make it look like Russia was behind the hacking.
"Hackers can be anywhere. They can be in Russia, in Asia...even in America, Latin America," he said. "They can even be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very skillfully and professionally shifted the blame, as we say, onto Russia. Can you imagine something like that? In the midst of a political battle?"
"By some calculations it was convenient for them to release this information, so they released it, citing Russia," Putin added. "Could you imagine something like that? I can."
Megyn Kelly's interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin airs Sunday at 7 p.m. ET during the premiere of "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" on NBC.
Kelly told viewers that Putin — the former director of Russia's domestic spy agency — also suggested that the CIA could have been behind the hacking and noted that many people were convinced Russia was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.