Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday went to great lengths to avoid denying that the Russian government is in possession of “compromising material” on President Donald Trump.
At a press conference with Trump in Helsinki, Putin was asked by an Associated Press reporter about allegations — which first appeared in the so-called Steele dossier — that the Russian Federation has a video of the American president with Russian prostitutes. The video has come to be referred to as the “pee tapes” because prostitutes are said to have urinated in the video to please Trump.
“Yeah, I did hear these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow,” Putin said after an awkward pause. “Distinguished colleague, let me tell you this, when President Trump was in Moscow back then, I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect, but back then when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.”
“Let’s take St. Petersburg economic forum, for instance. There were over 500 American businessmen, high ranking, high level ones. I don’t even remember the last names of each an every one. Do you think that we try to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them?” Putin asked. “Well, it’s difficult to imagine on a bigger scale of this. Please disregard these issues and don’t think about this anymore again.”
It’s notable, however, that’s Putin’s answer did not include a direct denial.
Before the press conference ended, Trump added: “And I have to say if they had it, it would have been out long ago.”