Russian president Vladimir Putin made his first public comments on President Donald Trump firing FBI Director James Comey, but it didn’t come in a formal setting. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer spoke with Putin just before he took part in a hockey game in Sochi, so he was in full hockey uniform.
Putin told Palmer that Trump’s decision will have “no effect” on Russian relations with the U.S. With press aide Dmitry Peskov by his side translating, Putin said the question “looks very funny.”
“Your question looks very funny for me. Don’t be angry with me. We have nothing to do with that,” Putin said. “President Trump is acting in accordance with his competence, in accordance with his law and Constitution. What about us? Why we?”
Putin then cut the interview short, telling Palmer to watch the hockey game. “You see, I am going to play hockey with the hockey fans. And I invite you to do the same,” Putin said.
Here’s footage from the game, in which Putin played with a “national team of legends.”
Trump fired Comey on May 9, with the Department of Justice making the recommendation based on Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. However, members of Congress have called the timing into question, since Comey is also leading an investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.
Putin’s comments also came while Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The Trump Administration later released a readout of the meeting, which was closed to the press. The readout reads:
President Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies. The President raised Ukraine, and expressed his Administration’s commitment to remain engaged in resolving the conflict and stressed Russia’s responsibility to fully implement the Minsk agreements. He also raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. The President further emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia.