(CN) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ridiculed the U.S. focus on his ambassador’s contacts with members of the Trump presidential campaign in 2016, saying his envoy was only doing his job.
According to Putin, who was speaking at an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Ambassador Sergei Kislyak had a duty to maintain contacts with people in power –or soon to be in power — in Washington.
Kislyak’s contacts with former National Security Agency head Michael Flynn and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are the subject of multiple investigations unfolding in Washington.
On Thursday, June 8, former FBI director James Comey will testify before an open session of the Senate intelligence committee.
His testimony, which will be followed by a closed session with the committee, is expected to focus on how intelligence agencies concluded Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
They say they also hope Comey’s testimony will answer questions that have arisen since Comey’s sudden firing by Trump.
Putin appears to have gone on the offensive in advance of that highly-anticipated testimony. In fact, in public appearances both Thursday and Friday he spoke repeatedly about the investigations.
On Friday, Putin defended Kislyak saying his ambassador would have failed in his duties had he not sought to establish contacts and discuss future ties with a potential Trump administration.
He called American concern about these contacts, “catastrophic nonsense.”
He also said claims Russia meddled in the election are based on “nothing concrete, only assumptions.”
He said IP addresses allegedly belonging to Russian hackers could have been easily rigged and couldn’t stand as evidence.
Putin attributed the accusations of Russian interference to the Democrats’ anger over Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election.