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Vladimir Smirnov / AP

Vladimir Putin spoke with Megyn Kelly during a panel at St. Petersburg's Economic Forum on Friday. Kelly grilled him on questions about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election, NATO, and Syria, and Putin didn't shy away:

  • On reports of Russia meddling in U.S. election: "We should stop this idle prattle, which is harmful," said Putin. "There are no facts. Only suggestions and allegations." He later made the analogy that blaming Moscow for the outcome of the U.S. election is "like anti-semitism. [It's like saying] the Jews are to blame!"
  • On NATO's defense spending: "What is the point of NATO increasing defense spending if they aren't planning to attack anyone?" said Putin. When asked whether he believed that squabbles around NATO help Russia, he stated that they do if they help dismantle the organization.
  • On Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris deal: Putin defended Trump's decision, stating, "I wouldn't judge President Trump," and noted his support on the move to renegotiate a better deal. As for the media backlash? "It seems to me no one should be creating noise about it." He added that the exit process won't take full effect until 2020 anyway, so "don't worry, be happy."
  • On Russian ambassador to the U.S. meeting with several U.S. officials: "So our ambassador met someone. So what? It's his job," said Putin.
  • On alleged meetings between Trump aides and Moscow: "I had never known ... about anyone meeting anyone," said Putin. "There were no agreements whatsoever. ... This hysteria seems like it won't stop."
  • Does Putin think Syrian President Assad is evil? "You shouldn't be labeling people," said Putin. He also insisted that "there's no evidence to support" the claims that Assad used chemical weapons. Putin suggested that the reports were all staged, and that sarin gas "could have been used by someone in order to accuse President Assad."

Go deeper

Updated 54 mins ago - Sports

MLB enters first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

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