Donald Trump spent Sunday playing golf and dining at a country club that he owns in West Palm Beach, Florida, as he vacations at his nearby Mar-a-Lago estate. But shortly before 11 a.m., Trump found time to take a phone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a Politico report.
But neither Trump nor any administration spokesperson acknowledged that the call took place. Instead, the public revelation of Putin’s chat with Trump came from the office of the President of Russia and was posted online at the Kremlin site.
According to the Kremlin “readout” — that is, brief summary — of the call, Trump and Putin “discussed a range of issues of mutual interest.” The readout also said that Putin, on the call, thanked Trump for “information transmitted through the channels of U.S. special services” that helped Russian authorities “thwart terrorist acts in Russia.”
Beyond the subject of terrorism, the Kremlin did not specify what “mutual interests” Trump and Putin shared and that was discussed on the Sunday phone call. But the Kremlin said that Trump and Putin would “continue bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism.”
According to the Politico report, domestic Russian media reported that two Russian nationals were arrested on suspicion that they were planning acts of terrorism in the Russian city of St. Petersburg — coincidentally, Putin’s hometown — over the New Year’s holiday.
The alleged planned attacks in St. Petersburg appear to be the same as cited by the Kremlin readout of the Putin-Trump phone call. According to Politico, the Russian news reports said that information provided by the U.S. led to the discovery of the supposed terrorist plot.
The call marked the second in three years in which Putin thanked Trump for intelligence information that led to the capture of alleged terrorists. In December of 2017, the Russian president thanked Trump for information that supposedly helped to stop attacks, also in St. Petersburg, according to a report by the BBC.
Nor was the incident the first time that the existence of a call between Trump and Putin went unmentioned by the U.S. administration, but was revealed by the Kremlin. On July 31, Trump placed a call to his Russian counterpart but neglected to mention that the call had taken place or anything about the contents of the call.
But the Russian Embassy revealed the call on its own Facebook page, claiming that Trump phoned Putin to offer “assistance to Moscow in fighting wildfires in Siberia.” The Russian English-Language propaganda outlet Sputnik also reported on the call.
The Embassy claimed that Putin interpreted Trump’s July 31 call as “a guarantee of the future restoration of full-fledged bilateral relations.”