Ahead of Trump-Putin meeting, Nigel Farage appears on Fox & Friends to downplay Russian hacking in the 2016 election
Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
On the morning of President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Fox News turned to Nigel Farage, a network contributor with extensive ties to both Russia and Trump, for analysis and commentary. During the interview, Farage downplayed Russian interference in American elections and laughed at a co-host’s suggestion that he advised Trump to undermine the European Union and said, “I'm claiming no credit.”
Farage, who campaigned for Trump in 2016, has deep and well-documented relationships with Russia and people -- including WikiLeaks' founder -- who are suspected of acting in the interests of the Russian government. According to British outlet The Independent, one of Farage’s closest business associates had frequent contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.K. throughout the 2016 Brexit campaign, in which Russia reportedly interfered. Farage has also been spotted outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, “where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living since he claimed asylum in 2012,” and he is alleged to have given Assange data on a thumb drive. The Guardian has reported that Farage is a person of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in part because of that relationship. Moreover, Farage has appeared on Russian state television numerous times and has stated that Vladimir Putin is the “current world leader he most admired.”
Farage was named a Fox News contributor in the midst of all this, despite being known for regularly engaging with racist tropes, stumping for a pedophile, and whitewashing white nationalism. During his appearance on Fox & Friends to provide commentary on Trump’s meeting with Putin, Farage characterized the unprecedented Russian campaign to interfere in the 2016 election as just “how the world works.” He added that “the establishment [is] blaming Brexit and the Trump election on Russian collusion without an ounce of evidence, and it’s up to Trump to show the world that we don't need to make things worse with Russia.” From the July 16 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): One of the things going forward, knowing that it is going to happen very shortly, the president's summit, is that there have been a number of Democrats here in the United States who suggested, well, after those 12 Russian spies were indicted for meddling in our election, they shouldn't have the summit. What do you think?
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, let's just be clear: Twelve Russian spies have been found spying. It's what they do. They do it to us. We do it to them. It may not be very seemly, but it's how the world works. So there’s nothing in it that other than a very strange coincidence of timing, it seems to me. Look, the ultimate sanity test is, ask somebody, do you want better relations between Russia and the West, or do you want them to continue to deteriorate? And anybody with half a brain will say, well, do you know what? Talking is better than not talking.
ABBY HUNTSMAN (CO-HOST): Nigel, I know you were with the president a few days ago. Talking to him, what is different, in your opinion, about this meeting? Because Putin has met with our presidents in the past -- they’ve all pressed that reset button, saying that things are going to get better, our relationship is going to change. What do you think is different about these two meeting today?
FARAGE: Well, I think the fact is that the previous meetings have happened sort of around the back of global summits. This is the first time they’ve sat down specifically to try and work out where this relationship is going. So, I think it is important. There are questions, clearly, that the president has to ask of Putin. He may not answer them, but I think it's important that President Trump says, “Look, if you ever have or you ever intend to meddle in our elections, please get the hell out.” But, maybe, maybe we can start to have a more sensible relationship. Because, at the moment what we have got is we have got the establishment blaming Brexit and the Trump election on Russian collusion without an ounce of evidence, and it’s up to Trump to show the world that we don't need to make things worse with Russia.
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): What do you say to people who say the Russians hacked Brexit and they hacked U.S. elections, and they won on both ends?
FARAGE: Yeah, this is because nobody thought Brexit would happen, nobody thought Trump would happen, and now the establishment, who still don't understand why middle England and middle America voted in a way that they can't comprehend. They’re desperately looking for an excuse. They’re trying to put together their own conspiracy theory. I’ve been accused endlessly by The Guardian of working with the Russians. And apart from drinking the odd vodka, that’s about as guilty as I’ve ever been. It’s ludicrous.
DOOCY: Hey, Nigel, before you go, the news yesterday was that Theresa May, the prime minister, said that when she sat down with the president, the president said, “Sue the E.U.” Was that advice from you?
FARAGE: All I can say on this -- all I can tell you is that the president understands negotiations, and he understood that we had paid hundreds of millions of pounds into an organization every single year, tens of billions over the last decade, to an organization who, frankly, had misspent our money. And so, President Trump’s idea was, start the negotiations being tough. I’m not going to claim credit for it. The president makes his own mind up on things. He’s very good at it.
DOOCY: Yeah, but you did a little talking to him before he actually got there.
FARAGE: Yeah, look, the president talks to all kinds of people. I’m claiming no credit.