GOP nominee Donald Trump has been facing scrutiny recently for his alleged ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this week, Trump came under fire for suggesting that Russian hackers should “find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” In the same press conference, given in Florida on Wednesday, Trump said, “I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is. He said one nice thing about me. He said I’m a genius.”
Trump also said he hopes Putin “likes me” if elected.
But MSNBC unearthed an interview from three years ago that suggests Trump not only knows Putin, but also was aware Putin was monitoring him in some fashion. The interview was conducted by MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts in Moscow, ahead of a Miss Universe pageant.
“I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today,” Trump told Roberts, when asked about his relationship with Putin. “He’s probably very interested in what you and I are saying today and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form. But I do have a relationship with him and I think it’s very interesting to see what’s happened.”
He then reiterated his frequent praise of Putin as a leader while disparaging President Barack Obama.
“I mean look, he’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and what he’s representing,” Trump said. “If you look at what he’s done with Syria, if you look at so many of the different things, he has really eaten our president’s lunch, let’s not kid ourselves.”
Trump claimed in an interview Wednesday with CBS that, “I have nothing to do with Russia.”
Roberts asked Republican strategist and Trump campaign surrogate Boris Epshteyn to explain Trump’s comments.
Epshteyn said the “relationship” Trump was describing didn’t extend beyond Putin following what Trump was doing in Moscow.
“Of course the Russian president would notice that somebody of that stature was in Moscow,” he said. “What he said yesterday was that there was no business dealings between him and Vladimir Putin.”
Epshteyn then tried to steer to subject to what was in the email hacks on the Democratic National Convention. The FBI is investigating the hacks, but they are suspected to have been carried out by Russians, possibly connected to the government.
Watch the entire segment, as posted by MSNBC, here: