In what the Fox News host later described as "extraordinary television", video of Chris Wallace's Vladimir Putin interview has the internet shocked— for more reasons than one. The sit-down was Putin's first with United States media since 2017. During the interview, which aired on Fox News' Special Report, Wallace talked to Putin about the Mueller indictment, offered for Putin to actually read it if he wanted, and then went on to ask why all of Putin's opponents seem to end up dead.
"Mr. President, one of the issues that is standing in the way of more progress, as you know, are the allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election," Wallace said at the beginning of the interview. Then he pulled out a stack of papers, adding, "I have here the indictment that was presented on Friday from the Special Counsel Robert Mueller that says that 12 members of Russian military intelligence ... "
Then Wallace had to pause, because Putin began to laugh. Wallace said, "You smile. Let me finish. You say that these units were ... involved in hacking into democratic party computers, stealing information, and spreading it to the world to try to disrupt an election. May I give this to you to look at, sir?"
Putin pointed towards the table, indicating he didn't want it. "People are talking about a purported interference with Russia," Putin said. "I've mentioned this in 2016 and I want to say it now, again, and I really wish for your American listeners to listen to what I say: Russia as a state has never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections."
Wallace insisted that he was holding the indictment which proved otherwise, saying, "I have twelve names here, it talks about specific units."
Putin asked Wallace to "have a little patience", then said, "Do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced...the choice of millions of Americans? This is utterly ridiculous."
Putin then went on to explain why he had never collected "dirt" on the U.S. president: he didn't think much of him. Putin said of his opinion of Trump prior to the 2016 election,
I don’t want to insult President Trump when I say this — and I may come as rude — but before he announced that he will run for presidency, he was of no interest for us...He was a rich person, but, well, there’s plenty of rich persons in the United States. He was in the construction business. He organized the beauty pageants. But no, it would never occur to anyone that he would think of running for president.
Another bombshell moment occurred later, when Wallace also asked Putin during the interview, “[Why are] so many people who were political enemies of Vladimir Putin are attacked?” Wallace was referencing two incidents, specifically: the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy, and the fatal shooting of Putin's political opponent, Boris Nemtsov, in 2015.
In response, Putin said, "Well, first of all, all of us have plenty of political rivals. I'm pretty sure President Trump has plenty of political rivals." Wallace replied, "But they don't end up dead."
"All of us have our own set of domestic problems,” Putin said back, then referenced the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy as examples of domestic problems in the United States.
This conversation is just a small portion of the interview that Wallace later described as "contentious" at times.
The president has been criticized heavily for his conduct at the Helsinki summit, in which he refused to denounce Putin or legitimize the indictment of 12 Russian Intelligence Officials for their role in interfering with the 2016 election. Media officials and politicians alike were so shocked by Trump's behavior that CNN national correspondent John King later re-dubbed the Helsinki summit the "Surrender Summit."
King said, "I came to Washington in the final months of the Reagan administration, and I have never seen an American president simply surrender to the leader of Russia."