Donald Trump Initiated The 90-Minute Phone Call With Vladimir Putin, Russia Says

Donald Trump sits across from Vladimir Putin at a world event.
Guido Bergmann / Bundesregierung via Getty Images

Donald Trump initiated a 90-minute phone call with Vladimir Putin this week, a controversial discussion in which Trump said he did not raise the topic of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The White House announced this week that Trump had a phone conversation with the Russian president, touching on a range of topics from unrest in Venezuela to the completion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It was Trump who initiated the discussion, Russia announced.

As Bloomberg News reported, the Russian embassy shared details of the call on its Facebook page, saying that the two world leaders talked for 90 minutes and discussed their “shared commitment to step up dialogue in various areas, including on issues of strategic stability.” The call stirred controversy, as Trump claimed that Putin was not involved in the civil unrest in Venezuela, despite Trump’s own top national security adviser saying that the Kremlin has been offering support to embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin has caused controversy since he took office. Trump has met with Putin repeatedly, despite a consensus with American intelligence agencies that Putin led a campaign to interfere in the 2016 election to harm Hillary Clinton and increase Trump’s chance of winning. Trump was slow to enact sanctions on Russia for the election interference and even sided with Putin when the Russian president claimed that his country did not interfere.

Trump has been dismissive himself of the idea that Russia interfered, frequently casting doubt on the findings of American intelligence agencies. He has also speculated that other countries, including China, may have interfered as well, despite any evidence indicating such actions.

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But the recently released Mueller report — which Trump had otherwise praised for exonerating him on charges that his campaign colluded with Russia — detailed exactly how Russian hackers and online trolls interfered in the election.

Donald Trump described this week’s conversation with Vladimir Putin as “very positive,” noting that the two countries discussed issues of joint interest, including the process of denuclearization in North Korea. After the discussion, Trump took to Twitter to praise his relationship with Russia.

“Very good call yesterday with President Putin of Russia,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Tremendous potential for a good/great relationship with Russia, despite what you read and see in the Fake News Media. Look how they have misled you on ‘Russia Collusion.’ The World can be a better and safer place. Nice!”