Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein denied a rumored connection to Russia and Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, brushing off a photo of her at dinner with Putin in 2015.
A much-circulated photograph of Stein — criticized for acting as a spoiler to the Democrats during the 2016 election — showed Stein seated at a dinner table at a conference in Moscow, alongside Putin and fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, who left the White House after failing to disclose his conversations with Russia.
Stein's name surfaced this summer has part of a document request by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In a new interview with Newsweek, Stein said that she was not even introduced to Putin at the dinner. "That photo keeps circulating without a single fact," she said. "There was no translator at the dinner. Putin came in very briefly. Maybe he was there for 10 or 15 minutes before he gave a speech in Russian. Nobody was introduced to anybody."
When I hear about Jill Stein, I feel the need to post this pic. Is that Mike Flynn sitting next to Putin on the other side of the table? pic.twitter.com/QcCScO5NzL— Chris (@Cleric3648) September 28, 2017
Stein said she was there to speak at a conference and decry both U.S. and Russian militarism. "The facts do not support whatsoever the contention that I was there for some nefarious purpose or for some kind of backroom deal," she said. "I received zero sponsorship to be there. No payment. There was nothing compromising about my being in Moscow."
Stein said that she had "zero" contact with anyone in the Trump campaign that would cause investigators to suspect collusion. "Culturally, we couldn’t be further apart," she said. "It makes me laugh to even think of the suggestion."
The former presidential candidate also decried as "fake news" the assertion that she was a Trump voter, that she wanted to defeat Hillary Clinton, or that Clinton would be a worse president than Donald Trump. "My summary statement was always that I would feel terrible if Donald Trump was elected, and I would feel terrible if Hillary Clinton was elected," she said. "I feel most terrible about a voting system that restricts voters to two untrusted, widely disliked choices."