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Megyn Kelly spars with defiant Vladimir Putin on NBC show debut

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Megyn Kelly made her much-ballyhooed debut on NBC Sunday, though she didn’t exactly live up to the title of her new magazine show that went up against 60 Minutes. Though she’s obviously the star of Sunday Night With Megan Kelly, the former Fox News anchor used the first 11 minutes of the program to interview Russian president Vladimir Putin before tossing the rest of the hour to reports by Cynthia McFadden and Harry Smith, which she introduced.

Before the other stories — one was about a drug company whistle-blower while the other focused on the plight of African elephants — Kelly began the hour with her highly publicized interview with Putin. She asked the tough questions about Russian interference in the election, but a smug Putin denied involvement and even mocked the U.S. for “spreading disinformation.” When asked whether he knew anything about Jared Kushner’s attempts to set up a back-channel to Russia, Putin said “his jaw dropped” when he learned of the allegations.

“There’s nothing to even talk about,” he told Kelly via an incredulous sounding interpreter. “There wasn’t even any kind of specific discussion about sanctions or anything else. For me, this is just amazing.”

Putin then appeared to defend President Donald Trump by saying, “You created a sensation out of nothing. And out of this sensation, you turned it into a weapon of war against the current president. Well, this is, you know, you’re just, you people are so creative over there. Good job. Your lives must be boring.”

He also said he had a “closer relationship” with Kelly than to former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, despite a photo circulating of the two men sitting next to each other at a Moscow event. Flynn’s ties with Russia are under scrutiny by the U.S.

“You and I personally have a much closer relationship than I had with Mr. Flynn,” Putin said to Kelly. “You and I met yesterday evening. You and I have been working together all day today. And now we’re meeting again. When I came to came to the event for our company, Russia Today, and sat down at the table, next to me there was a gentleman sitting on one side. I made my speech. Then we talked about some other stuff. And I got up and left. And then afterwards I was told, ‘You know there was an American gentleman, he was involved in some things. He used to be in the intelligence services.’ That’s it. I didn’t even really talk to him. That’s the extent of my acquaintance with Mr. Flynn.” He then laughed.

Halfway through her program, Kelly promised stories about the melting icebergs, Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, and the creator of My Pillow — all from NBC journalists, including Keith Morrison.

The program ended with what looks to be an ongoing rubric for Kelly’s show: “At the Kids Table.” The tots talked about rude behavior and how they “never get into arguments.”

“Hugs and ice cream,” Kelly said after the short package. “That’s why we call them experts.”