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Donald Trump Said He Doesn’t Know Vladimir Putin. But He Once Pondered Being His ‘Best Friend’

October 20, 2016, 2:24 AM UTC

During Wednesday night’s third and final presidential debate, the subject of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, whom the federal government accused of orchestrating a disinformation campaign to tilt the election to Donald trump, inevitably arose.

“I don’t know Putin,” said Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, when asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether he would denounce Russia’s “interference” in the election.

When pressed, Trump said, “Of course I condemn.”

I don’t know Putin,” he added. “This is not my best friend!”

Trump has a well-documented history of admiring and praising the Russian leader, and he has pursued business interests in Russia for years. In 2013, for instance, Trump tweeted about potentially meeting and befriending him while in Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.

Both the White House and intelligence agencies have said Russians have behind the leaking of the Clinton campaign’s emails via WikiLeaks.