WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir Putin said he barely interacted with Michael Flynn, who was fired this year as White House national security adviser, at a dinner in Moscow in 2015.
The two sat next to each other at the dinner.
Putin spoke about Flynn in an interview conducted in Moscow Friday with NBC, which was to be broadcast Sunday night.
The Russian leader said that at the anniversary party for Russian television network RT in December 2015, his interactions with Flynn were brief and superficial, according to a partial transcript released by NBC. Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was paid $45,000 to speak at the event.
“When I came to the event for our company, Russia Today, and sat down at the table, next to me there was a gentleman sitting on one side,” Putin said. Photos show Putin flanked by Flynn and Emir Kusturica, a Serbian filmmaker.
“I made my speech. Then we talked about some other stuff. And I got up and left. And then afterwards I was told, ‘You know there was an American gentleman. He was involved in some things. He used to be in the security services.’ That’s it. I didn’t even really talk to him … That’s the extent of my acquaintance with Mr. Flynn,” Putin said.
Flynn has become a central figure in investigations by Congress and the FBI into possible ties between Russia, the Trump administration and the Trump campaign.
An adviser to Trump’s campaign and prominent speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention, Flynn was fired less than four weeks after Trump’s inauguration after claims that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., during the presidential transition.
Flynn is one among a number of current and former Trump associates at the center of investigations into whether anyone close to the president helped Russia interfere in the U.S. election, and whether any crimes were committed.