Absolutely no laughing matter for the likes of Rachel Maddow and others who have now spent years locked deep in their 'Russiagate' navel-gazing, but at least Putin still hasn't lost his sense of humor about it.
While speaking on a panel of industry and political leaders at the Russian Energy Week conference, Putin mocked reports already alleging Moscow plans to interfere in the 2020 US presidential election. When pressed by NBC News correspondent Keir Simmons over whether former Special Counsel Robert Mueller was accurate in predicting Russia would "attempt to interfere" in the 2020 election, Putin leaned forward in a gesture to act like he was whispering a 'secret':
"I'm going to tell you a secret," Putin said, leaning forward.
“Yes, we will definitely intervene, don't tell anybody” he continued to an applauding crowd.
"You know, we have enough of our own problems," Putin continued. "We are engaged in resolving internal problems and are primarily focused on this."
His characteristic public sarcasm was a hit with the crowd, at an event which included OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo and others. He followed on a more serious note by calling it "ridiculous" that Russia would interfere in the 2020 election.
He also talked down his relationship and interactions with President Trump, describing that the two leaders have never been close.
Putin jokes Russia will "definitely" intervene in the 2020 US elections pic.twitter.com/wY51XTpboQ— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 2, 2019
“In my opinion, we have good, businesslike relations, and a relatively stable level of trust,” he said during the conference's plenary session. “We’ve never been close, and aren’t now.”
However, Putin did come to the US president's defense when asked about the Ukraine call transcript.
“From what we know, I don’t see anything compromising at all,” Putin told the audience. “I didn’t see that during this phone call Trump demanded compromising material from Zelenskiy at any cost and threatened him that he wouldn’t help Ukraine.”