President Biden told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny that when he called the Russian President a “killer,” he answered honestly, adding he didn’t “think it matters a whole lot” in terms of their upcoming summit.
Biden initially responded to Zeleny’s question by chuckling and replying: “I’m laughing, too,” a reference to Putin’s reaction in an interview when he was asked about Biden’s initial comments.
“The answer is I believe he has in the past essentially acknowledged that he was – there are certain things he would do or did do. Look, when I was asked that question on air I answered it honestly. I don’t think it matters a whole lot in terms of this next meeting that we’re about to have,” Biden added.
When asked how he would ever be able to trust Putin if the two leaders are able to move forward, Biden said he would “verify first and then trust.”
“In other words everything would have to be shown to be actually occurring. It’s not about, you know, trusting, it’s about agreeing,” Biden said.
Biden pointed to other examples and treaties with other adversaries in the past, saying, “you don’t say I trust you, you say this is what I expect and if you violate the agreement you made then, the treaty's off.”
“I’m hoping that President Putin concludes that there is some interest in terms of his own interest in changing the perception the world has of him, in terms of whether or not he will engage behavior that’s more consistent with what is considered to be appropriate behavior for a head of state,” Biden added.