Trump defends call to Putin, White House hunts for leaker | world news | Hindustan Times
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Trump defends call to Putin, White House hunts for leaker

Trump had called Putin on Tuesday to congratulate him on his re-election.

world Updated: Mar 22, 2018 23:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Da Nang, Vietnam on November 11, 2017.
US President Donald Trump (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Da Nang, Vietnam on November 11, 2017.(AFP)

US President Donald Trump vigorously defended his congratulatory call to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, even as the White House launched an investigation into the leak that he had ignored advice from aides against it.

Trump had called Putin on Tuesday to congratulate him on his re-election. Most US officials and experts believe the election were not free or fair.

“I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also),” Trump tweeted on Wednesday, referring to a similar call by his predecessor Barack Obama to Putin earlier.

According to various news reports, Trump had been expressly urged by national security council aides, who typically brief the president before such calls, to not congratulate Putin, writing on the briefing material in capital letters — “DO NOT CONGRATULATE”.

The aides had also wanted Trump to raise with Putin the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain, but he did not.

Trump and the White House were furious over the leak, and a hunt was launched for the leaker, according to reports, as only someone with high security clearance could have had access to the briefing material.

It was later reported that Trump might not have seen the briefing material at all. Other aides said Trump is keen to forge a different sort of relationship with Putin, and he did not want to antagonise him.

“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,” Trump tweeted, arguing that the US needs Russia’s help to solve the crises in North Korea and Syria, among other issues.

Trump also took on his predecessors, saying they had been incapable of forging better relations with Moscow. He tweeted: “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!”, referring to the policy of Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state in pursued a “reset” aimed at turning around a dysfunctional relationship.