Fox News anchor Chris Wallace left for a vacation in Russia after he aggressively questioned the country's president, Vladimir Putin, about his government's meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and his reported killing of political opponents.
Wallace told Putin after their occasionally tense exchange in Helsinki about his plans to travel Russia with his wife, Lorraine. The two men spoke cordially after the televised interview—a ratings smash with 3.2 million viewers last Monday night—but the authoritarian leader asked one question that left Wallace concerned.
"He said, ‘How much time in each city?’" Wallace said in a phone interview with the New York Times. "I was a little worried about that. Why does he want to know?"
Wallace, the host of "Fox News Sunday," scored the interview with Putin after his summit with President Donald Trump. The U.S. president made headlines by appearing to prioritize Putin's denial of 2016 election meddling over the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies. He later walked back the comments to say he did accept the intelligence agencies' conclusions, although he added it "could be other people also."
During the interview, Wallace attempted to hand Putin a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Putin wouldn't touch it. Wallace also asked Putin why "so many" of his political opponents end up dead or hurt; Putin deflected and said U.S. presidents had been assassinated as well.
And when they were done, Wallace headed to Russia.
"I had a few doubts," Wallace said. "But I figured, why not?"
Wallace said he had not been harassed in any way and had even been recognized by some Russians because of his Putin interview.
He hopes to use the widely praised Putin interview as leverage to score another sit-down with Trump. Trump has been interviewed by partisan Fox News hosts several times since entering the White House but hasn't spoken with Wallace since the 2016 campaign.
"Am I going to perhaps point out that Vladimir Putin sat down with me, so why doesn’t the president?" Wallace said. "Yeah, I’m going to make that argument."