Fox News host Bill O'Reilly called Russian President Vladimir Putin "a killer" during an interview with President Donald Trump Sunday, and now the Kremlin is demanding an apology.
"We consider such words from the Fox TV company to be unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company," Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call Monday, Reuters reported.
O'Reilly's assertion came when he pressed Trump to explain why it is he respects the Russian leader. "Well I respect a lot of people," the president said.
"He's a killer — Putin's a killer," the Fox host charged.
Trump replied: "What? Do you think our country's so innocent?"
O'Reilly didn't say who he thought Putin killed, though the Russian leader is a former KGB agent, head of the FSB and is thought to be behind the assassinations of several people, including a number of reporters who challenged the Kremlin. And last year, a British investigation into the 2006 death of Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-Russian spy, found that his murder was "probably approved" by Putin.
Of that charge, Trump had this to say: "First of all, he says he didn't do it. Many people say it wasn't him. So who knows who did it?"
Putin and his administration have consistently rejected the accusations against him, arguing they are politically motivated and untrue.
Trump's views on Putin were criticized throughout the presidential campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies accused the Kremlin of being behind hacks into the Democratic National Committee and the emails of John Podesta, the campaign chair to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
In early January, Trump finally said "I think it was Russia" behind the hacks, though he added it's "not just Russia" that is responsible. He accused the DNC of not taking proper precautions to prevent such cyberattacks.