Trump defends congratulatory phone call to Rasputin Russia’s Putin
Steve Holland, Reuters, Mar 21 2018

FASCHINGSTEIN – Pres Trump defended his congratulations to Vladimir Putin on the Russian president’s reelection victory on Wednesday, saying he wants Putin’s help in solving crises from NK to Syria and beyond. Trump drew fire from both sides of the aisle for telling reporters on Tuesday that he had congratulated Putin on his re-election and that the two leaders had made tentative plans to meet in the “not too distant future.” The WaPo reported that Trump, in his briefing papers to prepare for the phone call with Putin on Tuesday, was specifically warned “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” the Russian president. In a pair of tweets on his call with Putin, Trump said:

Trump’s congratulations to Putin come shortly after he joined Britain in blaming Russia for the Skripal attack. Last week, after initially equivocating about the attack, the White House joined a statement by the leaders of Britain, France and Germany in which they said they “abhor the attack” and blamed it on Moscow. The issue came up on Wednesday in a telephone call between Trump and Macron, according to a White House statement. It said:

The presidents reiterated their solidarity with Britain in the wake of Russia’s use of CW against private citizens on British soil and agreed on the need to take action to hold Russia accountable.

But the poisoning incident did not appear to come up in Trump’s call with Putin. Sarah Sanders told reporters on Tuesday:

I don’t believe that was discussed in today’s call.

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