In an interview Tuesday Donald Trump defended Russian President Vladimir Putin over recent accusations that he ordered the London murder of a former intelligence agent.
Trump told Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, “If he did it, fine. But I don’t know that he did it. You know, people are saying they think it was him, it might have been him, it could have been him. But Maria, in all fairness to Putin — and I’m not saying this because he says, ‘Trump is brilliant and leading everybody’ — the fact is that he hasn’t been convicted of anything.”
On Thursday, a retired British judge Robert Owen released a report on the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was an alleged enemy of the Kremlin, and died after drinking tea laced with a rare radioactive isotope. Owen writes in his report that there is, “strong circumstantial evidence of Russian state responsibility.”
Putin’s name is listed over 180 times in the report, much of it dealing with a falling out between Litvinenko and Putin during the time that he was director of the Russian intelligence agency FSB. Litvinenko alleged that there was widespread corruption in the FSB and that Putin was covering it up. This lead him to be considered an enemy of the state.(RELATED: Here’s The Circumstantial Evidence Linking Putin To The Murder Of Russian Whistleblower)
The Russian ambassador strongly denied the claims brought up in the report, saying in a statement, “For us it is absolutely unacceptable that the report concludes that the Russian state was in any way involved in the death of Mr Litvinenko on British soil.” He added, “This gross provocation of the British authorities cannot help hurting our bilateral relationship.”
Trump seemed to agree with the ambassador, “First of all, he says he didn’t do it. But many people say it wasn’t him. So who knows who did it?” He continued to say, “Have they found him guilty? I don’t think they’ve found him guilty. They say a lot of things about me that are untrue, too.”
Putin has been defended by Trump before over accusations that the Russian president had ordered the murder of journalists. Trump said, “Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also.”