Vladimir Putin doesn’t think Donald Trump is as tremendously fantastic as has been reported, the Russian leader clarified in an interview that aired Sunday.
“I only said that he was a bright person. Isn’t he bright? He is. I did not say anything else about him,” Putin told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at a panel discussion in St. Petersburg.
Putin was quoted around the world as saying Trump was “a really brilliant and talented person” after his annual news conference in December.
Putin, speaking through a translator, accused Zakaria of twisting his words. “Why do you always change the meaning of what I said.”
Zakaria acknowledged the translation of his quote by Interfax that Trump was “brilliant” was “bright” in other translations.
Putin didn’t offer any new adjectives for Trump in the interview that aired Sunday but said he appreciates the GOP front-runner’s desire to “restore full-fledged Russian-American relations.”
Trump has previously boasted about Putin’s praise, but exaggerated the translation even more. “He called me a genius. He said Trump’s a genius. Okay. So, you know, that’s nice,” Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in April.
Putin said he’s ready to work with the next president regardless of the winner.
“We never interfere into the internal political processes of other countries, especially those in the United States. We are ready to work with any president that the American people will vote for,” Putin said.