Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has no regrets about her possible spoiler role in last year's election, and she dismissed concerns about Russian interference as "pathetic excuses" for the Democrats' loss.
Stein said she would welcome an opportunity to testify before Congress about her campaign and her 2015 trip to Moscow, where she dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an event hosted by the government-funded RT network, reported Politico.
Mike Flynn, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who lasted less than a month as national security adviser, also attended that dinner and gave a speech, for which he was paid $45,000 that he later failed to disclose.
Stein told Politico she was not offered any speaking fees, and she said she declined RT's offer to pay for her travel costs -- which the candidate said was paid by her presidential campaign.
"I am certainly not aware of any ties whatsoever, financial or otherwise, to the Russian government," Stein told the website.
Stein, whose critiques of U.S. foreign policy sometimes overlap with Putin's complaints, dismissed claims that she had praised the Russian president as "fake news."
"Putin is an authoritarian and has a very troubled, disturbing record," she said.
She then cited a controversial theory blaming Lawrence Summers, former treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, for the rise of Putin and Russian oligarchs after the fall of the Soviet Union.
"It’s important to look at where Putin comes from," Stein said. "It was Larry Summers and the guys from Harvard who basically privatized the public domain and created the oligarchs."
Hillary Clinton has blamed her loss, in part, on Russian interference on Donald Trump's behalf, and both Congress and the FBI are investigating possible collusion between his campaign and Russian officials.
A former communications aide to Clinton told Politico that Stein could have helped elect Trump by drawing away potential Democratic votes, but he's not convinced Russia interfered on the Green Party candidate's behalf.
"What is debatable is the extent to which the Russian intervention in the election included propping up her campaign," said former Clinton aide Jesse Ferguson. "There was a not-insignificant amount of exposure given to her campaign by the Russian government, Russian government outlets like RT, but there’s no way to conclusively know whether Donald Trump would’ve lost Michigan if Russian operatives weren’t promoting Jill Stein. It’s an unknowable question."
Stein said there's "no evidence" of Russian interference, which U.S. intelligence officials and foreign allies warned against last year, and dismissed those concerns as "pathetic excuses" by Democrats to explain Clinton's loss to the real estate developer and former reality TV star.
She's in apparent agreement with Putin, who has dismissed claims of Russian interference as a "fiction" invented by Democrats, and Trump, who also called claims of collusion "an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election."
Stein has no regrets about her campaign, even if she inadvertently helped elect Trump.
"There are differences between Clinton and Trump, no doubt, but they’re not different enough to save your life, to save your job, to save the planet," Stein told Politico. "We deserve more than two lethal choices."
Another Green Party official told Politico that Trump's election was a good thing because his right-wing policies had energized left-wing activists.
"In some ways, Trump is one of the best things to happen to this country because look at how many people are getting off their posteriors," said Sherry Wells, chairwoman of Michigan's Green Party. "So part of me is giggling."
Stein takes pride in the criticism she's faced after the election.
"I consider it a great honor that the party and our prior campaign for president is suddenly being attacked outside of an election season," Stein told Politico.