The White House said earlier this week that they would not be reaching out to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his election victory, which came in the wake of a suspected Russian attack on an ex-Russian spy in the U.K. using a military-grade nerve agent.
Just one day later, Donald Trump reached out to Vladimir Putin on his own, congratulating the Russian president for his victory and discussing the possibility of another meeting in the near future. Trump himself spoke about the phone call with reporters on Tuesday, just one day after the Washington Examiner reported that the White House said no such call would be taking place.
The call has generated controversy as Donald Trump continues to face allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia and his reluctance to take any action against Russia in retaliation, including enacting sanctions passed with the overwhelming bipartisan support of Congress that Trump delayed.
On Monday, the Washington Examiner reported that the White House was not surprised by Putin’s election victory over the weekend, which came after the leading opposition candidate was forced out of the race. There were allegations of election impropriety, including video evidence of vote stuffing in favor of Putin.
As the report noted, the White House’s initial refusal to reach out to Vladimir Putin was seen as a move of solidarity with the U.K. in the wake of the attack on an ex-Russian spy. The Trump administration released a joint statement along with the leaders of France, Germany, and the U.K. accusing Russia of carrying out the attack.
The call came after Trump’s White House had just enacted sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election as well.
“We had a very good call,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia (via the New York Times). “We will probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.”
— Erich Brion (@BrionEM) March 20, 2018
Donald Trump’s phone call to Vladimir Putin led to immediate criticism, including Republican Senator John McCain, who said that Trump’s phone call was an “insult to every Russian citizen who was denied the fight to vote in a free and fair election,” as Putin’s win was marred with accusations of ballot-stuffing and other issues.
Sen. McCain is VERY unhappy with President Trump for calling to congratulate Russian President Putin on his election win ???????? pic.twitter.com/yw64Vx7hyC
— Marianna Sotomayor (@MariannaNBCNews) March 20, 2018
Donald Trump did not say exactly when his next meeting with Vladimir Putin would take place.