The Kremlin wants Fox News to apologize for a comment journalist Bill O’Reilly made about Russian President Vladimir Putin during an interview Sunday with U.S. President Donald Trump.
O’Reilly called Putin “a killer” after Trump said he respected the Russian leader.
“We consider such words from a Fox News correspondent unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday in a conference call with reporters.
When O’Reilly asked the president about what the journalist called “atrocities” committed by Putin in the past, and how Trump could respect him knowing this history, Trump responded that “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”
Trump’s comments bothered some members of the president’s Republican Party. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t think “there’s any equivalency” between the U.S. and Putin. McConnell characterized Putin, a former KGB agent, as “a thug.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking computers connected to the Democratic Party as part of a wide-ranging campaign aimed at interfering in the U.S. presidential election .
Before taking office, Trump repeatedly questioned the intelligence community’s findings. Those criticisms have since eased. Still, the president has continued to say publicly he is open to better relations with Moscow.
Trump and Putin spoke by phone recently in what the White House described as “a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair.”
The Fox News interview also included a question about Trump’s call for investigating voter fraud in the November presidential election. Trump has made many claims that undocumented immigrants voting illegally cost him the national popular vote. Trump won the Electoral College vote to defeat Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, but he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.
“Let me just tell you – when you see illegals – people that are not citizens and they are on the registration rolls,” Trump said. “You have illegals, you have dead people, you have this. It’s really a bad situation, it’s really bad.”
Election officials who have analyzed the November 8 vote say there were almost no indications of voter fraud, certainly not on the scale Trump cites.