White House Defends Biden's 'Killer' Comment About Putin

Posted: Mar 18, 2021 3:00 PM
White House Defends Biden's 'Killer' Comment About Putin

Source: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Despite backlash from Russia, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden has no regrets about calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a killer,” noting that the two have known each other a long time and he “gave a direct answer to a direct question.”

Biden’s comment came during his recent interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos after the two discussed an intelligence report that found Putin “authorized extensive efforts to hurt the candidacy of Joseph R. Biden Jr. during the election last year, including by mounting covert operations to influence people close to President Donald J. Trump,” according to The New York Times. The declassified report, however, did not disclose how that conclusion was reached. 

Stephanopoulos also asked Biden if he thought Putin was a “killer," to which the commander in chief responded, “I do.”

Russian officials lashed out at the president’s comment. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “there hasn’t been anything like this in history." 

"These are very bad statements by the President of the United States. He definitely does not want to improve relations with us, and we will continue to proceed from this," Peskov added. 

Russia pulled its US ambassador on Wednesday in response to the comments. Peskov added he couldn't say if Putin himself will react to the remark and he insisted the ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, has been "invited" back to Moscow to discuss Russia-US relations.

Peskov said there are currently no plans for Putin to meet with Antonov, but if necessary Putin will have a discussion with him. (CNN)

Putin also responded to Biden’s comment on Thursday, arguing "it takes one to know one." 

"It's true, we really know each other personally. What would I answer him? I would tell him: be healthy," Putin said. "I wish him good health. I say this without irony, no jokes. This is first of all."

"When we evaluate other people, states and nations, we always seem to be looking in the mirror. We always see ourselves. We always pass on to another person what we ourselves are in essence," he continued. "I remember in my childhood, when we argued in the courtyard with each other we used to say: it takes one to know one. And that’s not a coincidence, not just a children’s saying or joke. The psychological meaning here is very deep."

Former President Trump was confronted with a similar question about Putin in a 2017 interview with then-Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. He said more generally "there are a lot of killers" and pointed to the U.S., asking: "Well, you think our country is so innocent?”