Over the last few weeks, both the U.S. government and the Clinton campaign have accused Russia of trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by leaking emails from the Clinton campaign. In last week's debate, Clinton actually said on-stage that Putin was "directing the attacks, the hacking on American accounts to influence our election." But on Sunday, NBC News reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin shrugged off the accusations and told reporters that he had "no intention" of influencing the U.S. election. Instead, Putin suggested that the U.S. is using Russia to distract voters from issues at home. "I want to calm down everybody, including our American friends and partners — we have no intention of influencing the election campaign in the U.S.," Putin told reporters, according to the TASS news agency.
"We don't know whether…[Donald] Trump will be implementing his intentions, how far will he go in cooperating with us, or whether Mrs. Clinton, if she becomes president, will implement her threats and her harsh rhetoric about Russia," Putin said. "She may correct her position, too. All of it is still unknown to us." Putin said the accusations that Russia is trying to interfere with the U.S. election were just part of a "well-oiled system of distracting the voters from domestic problems" and that the U.S. was using Russia, because "Iran and the Iranian nuclear problem is not an efficient enemy anymore." According to TASS, Putin said, "Sacrificing Russian-American relations to U.S. domestic affairs is bad, because it disrupts international relations in general. [I hope that] when…this complicated period in U.S. internal politics is over, there will be a possibility of restoring U.S.-Russian relations." Interestingly enough, Reuters reports that Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence agrees with the Obama administration and Clinton camp.
In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Pence said that there is evidence implicating Russia in the recent email hacks tied to the election. "I think there's no question that the evidence continues to point in that direction," Pence said. "There should be severe consequences to Russia or any sovereign nation that is compromising the privacy or the security of the United States of America." Pence's comment directly contradicts those of his running mate, Donald Trump, who has said that he doubts Russia's involvement.