NPR's Steve Inskeep calls it "world class trolling." Vladimir Putin joked on Thursday that Russia would be happy to offer asylum to James Comey if he runs into legal trouble in the US, reports the Guardian. It came during Putin's annual live call-in show with Russians as he belittled the notion that Moscow interfered in the US election. Putin said Comey reiterated the allegation during his recent Senate testimony, "but again gave no evidence." And Putin went on to compare the former FBI chief to Edward Snowden. "It sounds very strange when the head of the security services writes down a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then leaks it to the media through his friend," said Putin. "How, in that case, does he differ from Snowden?"
By Putin's reckoning, Comey's behavior makes him more of a "human rights defender" than an FBI chief. "And if he faces pressure, then we are happy to offer him political asylum, too," he said sarcastically. Putin also took a video call from a man in Arizona who asked advice on how to fight "racist Russophobia" in America. Putin said he didn't have specific advice, "but I want to thank you for your position, and we know that we have a lot of friends in the United States." The Washington Post notes that one thing Putin apparently couldn't control during the nationally televised show was pop-up questions from viewers that appeared on screen. It rounds up some memorable ones, including, "Putin, do you really think that the people believe in this circus with fake questions?" Read about what else Putin touched on (one topic: grandkids) during his 4-hour show here.