Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tried to put to rest questions about his relationship with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, but on Sunday morning’s edition of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, was repeatedly unable to categorically say whether he had ever met Putin, and when pressed by host George Stephanopoulos about whether he had a “relationship” with Putin, seemed to respond that it depends what your definition of “relationship” is:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about Russia. You made a lotta headlines with Russia this week. What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?
TRUMP: I have no relationship with Putin. I have no relationship with Putin.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you have no relationship with Putin, then why did you say, in 2013, “I do have a relationship,” in 2014, “I spoke–”
TRUMP: Because he has said nice things about me over the years. I remember years ago, he said something, many years ago, he said something very nice about me. I said something good about him when Larry King was on. This was a long time ago. And I said, “He is a tough cookie,” or something to that effect. He said something nice about me. This has been going on. We did 60 Minutes together, by the way, not together together, meaning he was probably shot in Moscow–
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he was in Moscow.
TRUMP: –and I was shot in New York.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were in New York. But that’s the thing.
TRUMP: No, just so you understand, he said very nice things about me. But I have no relationship with him. I don’t– I’ve never met him–
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet, you said, for three years, ’13, ’14, and ’15, that you did have a relationship with him–
TRUMP: I had– no, I– look. What– what do you call a relationship? I mean, he treats me–
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m asking you.
TRUMP: –with great respect. I have no relationship with Putin. I don’t think I’ve ever met him. I never met him. I don’t think I’ve ever met him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You would know it if you did, wouldn’t you–
TRUMP: I think so. Yeah, I think so. So I’ve– I don’t think I’ve ever met him. I mean, if he’s in the same room or something, but I don’t think so.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Never spoken to him on the phone–
TRUMP: I’ve been in Moscow. I didn’t meet him in Moscow. Where?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Never spoken to him on the phone?
TRUMP: I have never spoken to him on the phone, no. I’ve spe– I’ve spoken– when we had the Miss Universe contest a number of years ago, we had Miss Universe in Moscow, in the Moscow area. He was invited. He wanted to come. He wasn’t able to come. That would’ve been a time when I would’ve met him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But– I– I just wanna clear this up. Because you did say, on three different occasions, you had a relationship with him. Now you say there’s none.
TRUMP: Well, I don’t know what it means by having a relationship. I mean, he was saying very good things about me. But I don’t have a relationship with him. I didn’t meet him. I haven’t spent time with him. I didn’t have dinner with him. I didn’t– go hiking with him. I don’t know– I– I wouldn’t know him from Adam except I see his picture, and I would know what he looks like.
Trump’s “relationship” with Putin, whatever it is, has raised questions about the Russian government’s involvement in trying to influence the presidential election.
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