US President Donald Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election despite the warnings from multiple national security advisers and briefing materials that said “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” The Washington Post reported Tuesday evening.
The Post, citing an unspecified number of officials familiar with the call, said Trump likewise did not listen to aides who gave him talking points to condemn a nerve agent poisoning in the UK, which the US has blamed on Russia.
Trump told reporters on Tuesday as he met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia that he had congratulated Putin in a call.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said both the nerve agent poisoning and alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election likely did not come up during the call.
Trump’s comments drew significant criticism among US politicians, including by Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, a noted Russia hawk, who said “an American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.”
The White House National Security Council declined to comment on the report.
The White House declined to comment to the Post on Trump’s briefing materials, and the story noted that officials said it was not clear if Trump read the notes.