“Donald Trump thanked Vladimir Putin on Thursday for kicking 755 U.S. diplomats out of Russia, leaving foreign policy experts and the world in disbelieve.
Instead of standing up for the men and women who selflessly serve their country, the president – once again – took the side of the man who helped put him in the White House, thanking the Russian president for cutting the U.S. government’s payroll.” MORE
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump accepted Putin’s assurances there was no Russian involvement in the 2016 American election. A senior Trump administration official immediately denied that Trump accepted Putin’s claim of non-interference.
The dispute only underscores the challenges that remain in the fraught relationship between the United States and Russia, whose 2016 election meddling has hung over the Trump White House for months as multiple investigations proceed in Washington.
“They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in an off-camera briefing after the meeting. “The President pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.”
Lavrov, speaking on camera in a separate briefing, said that Trump was OK with Putin’s version of events.
Tillerson, who sat in on the discussion between the two leaders, said Trump and Putin did agree to a ceasefire in southwest Syria. The ceasefire was a “defined agreement” and could be a precursor to further cooperation in Syria.
“This is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together in Syria,” Tillerson said.