White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that during the hour-long phone call between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, the pair agreed “there was no collusion” between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 campaign. Per NBC News, she claims that the pair didn’t discuss special counsel Robert Mueller’s report for long, saying they spoke of it “essentially in the context of that it’s over and there was no collusion.”
Speaking on behalf of the White House, Sanders added that Trump and Putin were likely already aware of the findings of the Mueller report before its release, as it was “something we’ve said for the better part of two and a half years.”
Sanders was also asked if the pair discussed the election meddling that Mueller’s report documented, to which she said that the Trump administration is committed to ensuring that elections move forward without any foreign influence. She also took the question to attack the Obama administration for its lack of action in 2016.
“This administration, unlike the previous one, takes election meddling seriously.”
Trump took to Twitter to shed some of his own light on the Putin conversation, which seems to have gone well in his eyes.
….We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the “Russian Hoax.” Very productive talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
Sanders didn’t reveal which arms control agreement they discussed, although TIME reports that Russian state news agency Tass shows that it was the New START treaty. This treaty, which is the last major arms-control treaty remaining between the United States and Russia, was signed in 2010 and expires in 2021. It restricts both countries to no more than 700 deployed strategic bombers and ballistic missiles and 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads.
“There was a discussion about having — extending the current nuclear agreement — as well as discussions about potentially starting a new one that could include China as well.”
NEW: President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone and briefly discussed the Mueller report, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says https://t.co/bJBqsP5EOj pic.twitter.com/PWmwJk9T9Y
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 3, 2019
After Trump accused Moscow of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by deploying prohibited missiles, he scrapped the decades-old agreement. And while Moscow denies violating the pact, Trump’s move is an example of his administration’s stance for more forceful confrontation with countries like Russia and China.
National security adviser John Bolton discussed the importance of getting the two rising powers onboard in a talk with The Associated Press.
“The world has moved on from the Cold War and its bilateral arms control treaties that cover limited types of nuclear weapons or only certain ranges of adversary missiles. Russia and China must be brought to the table.”