- President Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin to thank him for his kind words about Trump’s economic achievements.
- “President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” a White House readout read.
President Donald Trump on Thursday called Russian President Vladimir Putin and thanked him for saying nice things about Trump’s economic performance during an annual year-end press conference, according to a White House readout of the call.
“President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” the readout read, adding that the two also spoke about North Korea.
Those were all the details the White House provided on the call, though Trump said Friday morning outside the White House that the call was mostly focused on North Korea. The Kremlin said that Trump and Putin agreed to share information about North Korea, in addition to discussing an improved dialogue between Russia and the US.
During his press conference, Putin chastised the “spy hysteria” surrounding the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including whether any Trump associates colluded with Russian officials.
“This is all made up by people who oppose Trump to make his work look illegitimate,” Putin said, according to The New York Times, which added that he suggested there is a “deep state” within the US that is hostile toward Russia.
“Do they want to ban all contact?” he asked.
Putin noted Trump’s “serious achievements.”
“Look at the markets, how they went up; that speaks about investors’ trust in what he does,” he said.
The call came hours after The Washington Post published an in-depth story that detailed Trump’s doubts of the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia sought to influence last fall’s election, leaving the “Russian threat unchecked.”
One US official briefed on a stream of postelection intelligence out of Russia said that for Putin, the meddling campaign was “more than worth the effort.” Yet US officials would not say whether such intelligence was shared with Trump, saying that his daily intelligence briefing is structure so not to upset him.
Publicly, Trump has called for improved relations with Russia, even as some in his Cabinet have cautioned about trusting the nation.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials. So far, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and two others have been charged with crimes stemming from the investigation.
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