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Vladimir Putin Misquotes Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to Deny Election Hacking

Vladimir Putin misquoted one of the most famous U.S. presidential catchphrases of all time on Thursday, using the garbled expression to deny his government interfered in the American presidential election.

Putin was asked on a CNBC-moderated panel discussion to confirm that he and his regime "never tried to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, and there will be no evidence found?"

'Watch My Lips' - Putin Confuses Famous U.S. Presidential Quote 0:43

In his response, he attempted to channel a former U.S. president.

"Ronald Reagan, debating about taxes and addressing the Americans, said, 'Watch my lips.' He said, 'No. Watch my lips. No,'" Putin told the audience.

But the man rated by Forbes as the world's powerful person got it wrong. It was George H.W. Bush, not Reagan, who asked Americans in 1988 to: "Read my lips: no new taxes."

Image: Putin at International Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk
President Vladimir Putin, center, speaks at the Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk on Thursday. Sergei Karphukhin / Pool via EPA

It's also not a quote that springs to mind when trying to convey an immovable promise. In a compromise with Congress, Bush did end up raising taxes, and his words were used against him in an attack ad by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton during his successful 1992 presidential campaign.

"You don't have to read his lips — read his record," the Democratic ad said of Clinton.

Putin's denial was the latest issued by his administration to reject the charge by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia conducted a covert hacking operation to undermine the U.S. election process.

Image: George H.W. Bush
Vice President George H.W. Bush accepts his party's presidential nomination at the 1988 Republican Convention. The speech included the famous pledge: "Read my lips: no new taxes." Arnie Sachs / dpa via AP, file

The agencies said this evolved into an attempt to help Trump win the White House, and they concluded with "a high level of confidence" that Putin became personally involved.

"All those things are fictional, illusory and provocations, lies," Putin told the CNBC-moderated discussion at the annual Arctic Forum in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk. "All these are used for domestic American political agendas. The anti-Russian card is played by different political forces inside the United States to trade on that and consolidate their positions inside."