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President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election, drawing bruising criticism from members of his own party, including a leading senator who scorned the election as a “sham.” Trump also said he and Putin might meet “in the not too distant future” to discuss the arms race and other matters.

What they didn’t discuss on Tuesday was noteworthy as well: Trump did not raise Russia’s meddling in the U.S. elections or its suspected involvement in the recent poisoning of a former spy in Britain.

Trump’s aides had warned him in an all-caps note to refrain from congratulating Putin, The Washington Post reported. It said aides included a section in his briefing materials stating: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”

It was unclear whether Trump, who prefers oral briefings, read the talking points prepared by his national security team before the call.

Criticism came quickly.

“An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and has pressed the Trump administration to respond aggressively to Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a frequent Trump critic, called the president’s call “odd.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump “can call whomever he chooses” but noted that calling Putin “wouldn’t have been high on my list.”

At the State Department, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said it was “no surprise” that Putin was re-elected, commenting that some people were paid to turn out to vote and opposition leaders were intimidated or jailed. She also cited a preliminary report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that said Russia’s election took place in an overly controlled environment that lacked an even playing field for all contenders.

Her comments were notably tougher on Russia than those coming from the White House.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s call, and noted that President Barack Obama made a similar call at the time of Putin’s last electoral victory.

“We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate,” Sanders said.

The action and reaction fit a Trump White House pattern of declining to chide authoritarian regimes for undemocratic practices.

Trump himself has long been reluctant to publicly criticize Putin. He said that during their hoped-for meeting the two men would likely discuss Ukraine, Syria and North Korea, among other things.

“I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not too distant future to discuss the arms race, to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have,” Trump said.

Russia has received global condemnation after Britain blamed Moscow for the recent nerve agent attack that sickened Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Russia has denied the accusation.

Trump’s call came at a period of heightened tensions between the two nations after the White House imposed sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 U.S. election and other “malicious cyberattacks.” Sanders insisted that the administration has scolded Putin at the appropriate times.

“We’ve been very clear in the actions that we’ve taken that we’re going to be tough on Russia, particularly when it comes to areas that we feel where they’ve stepped out of place.”

The Kremlin said in a statement that Trump and Putin spoke about a need to “coordinate efforts to limit the arms race” and for closer cooperation on strategic stability and counterterrorism.

“Special attention was given to considering the issue of a possible bilateral summit,” the Kremlin statement said.

In addition, the two presidents expressed satisfaction with the apparent easing of tensions over North Korea’s weapons program, according to the Kremlin.

No details were released about the timing or location of a possible meeting, which would be their third since Trump took office in January 2017. They met on the sidelines of an international summit in Germany last summer and again more informally at another gathering of world leaders in Vietnam in November.

The presidents “agreed to develop further bilateral contacts, taking into account changes in the U.S. State Department,” the Kremlin statement said in a reference to Trump’s decision to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Russia has repeatedly said it hoped for better ties with the U.S. under Trump.

Putin received calls from a number of other foreign leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Many others, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, sent congratulatory telegrams.

The White House had said Monday that it was “not surprised by the outcome” of Sunday’s presidential election in Russia and that no congratulatory call was planned.

Trump continues to grapple with the shadow of the ongoing investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election that sent him to the White House.

Last month, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three organizations on charges of interfering in the election. Three of Trump’s associates — former national security adviser Michael Flynn, deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and campaign aide George Papadopoulos — have pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate. Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has pleaded not guilty to a variety of money laundering and other criminal charges.

Isachenkov reported from Moscow. AP writer Zeke Miller contributed from Washington.

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14 thoughts on “Aides Told Trump Not Congratulate Putin On Win

  1. Willie on said:

    RUSSIA IS BENEFITING FROM TRUMP’s Presidency. As a divided Nation, this is the best time for our enemies to attack us; thanks to our current President.

  2. The Truth on said:

    He put down all America Preisdents and praise a foreign President he is being investigated about and also have sanctions on. America has to be Truly Stupid Not to see who side 45 is On. Like Rex Tillerson said We Need To Pray..Who is the Enemy? I guess making America Great Again is Screwing Us Over…His Actions Not adding up to and Innocent Man or A Man concerned about America.I think in his head he is saying America Is So Stupid!!!

  3. Hahaha. The fake prez is mad because the people who leaked that news about his ignorant congrats to the dictator, his bff are the same people working for his dumbass.

  4. Passing Through!! on said:

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s call, and noted that President Barack Obama made a similar call at the time of Putin’s last electoral victory.
    ****
    As usual Sandra “The Hulk” Big B, AKA trump s**t scooper doing what she does best DEFLECT and LIE. They can’t keep President Obama’s name out of their mouths. What does Obama have to do with the fact that the current sitting president was clearly told by his advising team NOT to congratulate Putin while you’re in the middle of a Russian scandal stupid. Why don’t Hulk Big B answer questions about 45 smashing porn star Stormy Daniels and the other women who are slowly slithering out of the cracks or what was in those documents that he turned over to Mueller’s team.

    • Really on said:

      Because that’s all they have to do is mention Obama . And all the trumpsterds get all excited. Obama Was not under investigation for colluding with Russians. They didn’t have anything on him. They can only make up stuff to fit their narrative. They have to play the Obama card as long as they can.

    • Where is the holier thou are not, fake vice prez pence? He’s been awfully quite with all this stormy porny news. For someone who suppose to be so religious, him, like all the other thugs have turned a blind eye to the corrupter/predator/ ignorant ranmous in Chief.

      • jhuff on said:

        where was the “#metoo” movement when Hilary kept a sexual predator in her employee after a victim informed her, and what the hell does Mike Pence have to do with Trumps personal behavior? you don’t want people judging your behavior at the strip clue

      • FYI. I don’t do strip clubs. Mike pence is suppose to be this religious zealot but he works for a sexual mysognist, womanizer predator in chief, and he says nothing about his adulterous behavior, past or present. He’s complicit just like all the other republithugs who turn a blind eye to the courrupter in Chief.

  5. Mac Daddy on said:

    CNN praised Obama when he called to congratulate Putin in 2012. Hypocrites all you sheep unable to think for yourselves.

    • Wrong!! I knew u and ur ilk would go there. Ist they weren’t meddling in our election then, and 2nd his aids did the congrats. No excuses for the farce in chief. He’s treasonous to the ump degree!!

  6. I’ll be glad when this incompetent, putin lovin idiot steps down. He’s an embarrassment to this country. 99% of the republuthugs stand by and say nothing as this wanna be authoritarian continues to disgrace the sane American ppl who knew better than to vote for him. Plz let this madness end. He’s anti American and pro putin.

    • Pamela Jones on said:

      Amen, at this point he should keep talking,because he’s his own worst enemy….the added plus is Mueller adding to the ending of this so call presidency.

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