President Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on winning the Russian election, despite national security advisers writing “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” in all caps on the briefing materials, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Trump not only ignored these instructions, the paper reports, but also ignored advice to bring up the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury, England, which he himself has said Russia was behind.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the U.S. “doesn’t get to dictate how other countries operate. What we do know is that Putin has been elected… We can only focus on the freeness and fairness of our elections.”
The Kremlin issued a press release affirming that Trump had called to congratulate Putin on his victory and that the two talked about economic cooperation, Syria, Ukraine, and other bilateral issues.
“On the whole, the conversation was constructive and businesslike, with a focus on overcoming the accumulated problems in Russian-American relations.”
Sen. John McCain of Arizona decried the friendly call on Twitter, writing, “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections."
As Axios points out, former President Barack Obama called to congratulate Putin back in 2012 for his election after stepping away for four years.
Cover image: President Donald Trump chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)