Donald Trump took to Twitter to defend his controversial move of calling Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election. Trump indicated that calling Putin was the right thing to do since Russia can help the United States deal with some of its problems, The Guardian reported.
The president received backlash after he picked up the phone to congratulate Putin despite the fact that there is an ongoing investigation regarding the supposed collusion between Trump and the Russians. Putin is also embroiled in other controversies such as the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian double spy in the United Kingdom.
As he defended his actions, Trump mentioned the presidents before him and called them out for their supposed inability to "get along" with Putin and Russia, in general. He also threw shade at Barack Obama, who also called Putin when he was elected in 2012, Foreign Policy reported back then. The difference was that the Obama administration still questioned the legitimacy of Putin's win at the time while Trump has yet to voice his opinion on how his Russian counterpart won the alleged "sham" elections.
"I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also)," Trump tweeted. "The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong!"
"Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing not a bad thing.""They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race," Trump further said. "Bush tried to get along, but didn't have the 'smarts.' Obama and Clinton tried, but didn't have the energy or chemistry (remember RESET). PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!" As NBC News pointed out, Trump painted himself as the better president indicating he can achieve what Obama, Clinton, and whichever Bush he was referring to in his tweet failed to do.
Trump felt the need to defend himself after it was revealed that White House officials didn't want the president to call Putin. His national security advisers apparently instructed him not to call Putin through briefing materials, which supposedly included a "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" note, according to the Washington Post. It is not clear if Trump did not read the note as he's been known for having briefing materials read to him and for disregarding advice from his staff.
The White House is now investigating and looking for the person or persons involved in the leak, which supposedly made Trump furious, CNN reported.
"If this story is accurate, that means someone leaked the President's briefing papers. Leaking such information is a fireable offense and likely illegal," a White House official told CNN.
Trump's explanation for the call has some loopholes as Russia is allegedly involved in the national security problems he tweeted about, claimed Vox.
For one, Russian military intervention in Syria has helped President Bashar al-Assad gain control of the embattled country. Russia has also been accused of hindering diplomatic solutions to the fighting in Syria after it blocked the UN resolution for a 30-day ceasefire in eastern Ghouta last month, The Guardian reported. The Russian representative who vetoed the resolution also said reports of heavy civilian casualties were merely due to "mass psychosis."
Also last month, more than a hundred Russian mercenaries were killed in a firefight against U.S. troops and their allies, according to CNN. Russian private military contractors are allegedly fighting alongside pro-Syrian regime forces. According to the Russian government, however, the casualties were not working for them.
Russia is also accused of helping North Korea avoid sanctions in connection with its nuclear weapons program. A Reuters report said Russian tankers supplied fuel to North Korea at least three times in 2017.
With regard to the "coming arms race," Vox reported that Trump is probably trying to turn Putin from "a foe to a friend" after the Russian president boasted of having nuclear weapons more advanced than what the United States and other countries have right now. Ironically, Trump is accused of "fueling an arms race" with Russia as well as with North Korea's Kim Jong-un.