You can’t accuse President Joe Biden of holding back on what he truly thinks of Vladimir Putin. In pretty extraordinarily frank comments to ABC News, Biden described Putin as a “killer” devoid of a human soul.
Biden sat down for an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, who asked: “So, you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?” Without hesitation, the president replied, “Mmm hmm, I do.”
The president described a tense phone call he had with Putin in January in which Biden warned him that he will “pay a price” for his attempts to interfere in U.S. democracy. Biden’s comments were broadcast a day after the U.S. chief intelligence office released an unclassified report accusing Putin of orchestrating efforts to wreck Biden’s election campaign.
Biden recalled: “We had a long talk, he and I, when we... I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”
The president also confirmed that, some years ago, he was alone with Putin in his office and he brought up the topic of Putin’s lack of a human soul. “I said, ‘I looked in your eyes and I don’t think you have a soul,’ and he looked back and said, ‘We understand each other.’ The most important thing of dealing with foreign leaders... is just know the other guy.”
Biden didn’t elaborate when asked how he’s going to punish Putin for his election meddling, only telling Stephanopoulos, “You’ll see.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Biden also responded to the growing criticism from both Democrats and Republicans about how he’s handling a surge in the number of people trying to cross the southern U.S. border.
Stephanopoulos asked the president, “Do you have to say quite clearly, ‘Don’t come’?” Biden responded, “Yes, I can say quite clearly: Don’t come over... Don’t leave your town or city or community.”
Biden also dismissed the often-repeated Republican accusation that more people are trying to immigrate into the U.S. since he became president because of his less strict immigration policies. “The idea that Joe Biden said, ‘Come,’ because I heard the other day that they're coming because they know I’m a nice guy... Here’s the deal, they’re not.”
Finally, at the end of the interview, Biden addressed the recent controversy over his dog Major, who was sent home to Delaware after an unfortunate incident involving a member of White House security staff.
“Look, Major was a rescue pup,” said Biden. “Major did not bite someone and penetrate the skin.” Biden admitted that Major “moves to protect” him sometimes, but added, “He’s a sweet dog. Eighty-five percent of the people there love him... All he does is lick them and wag his tail.”
Biden added that Major is being trained and may return to the White House at some point in the future.