President Donald Trump’s national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his electoral win, but Trump ignored them, the Washington Post reported Tuesday evening.
Trump’s briefing materials for his Tuesday call with Putin included a warning in all capital letters reading “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” sources familiar with the call told the Washington Post. A senior White House adviser told the Washington Post that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster did not warn Trump against congratulating Putin in the phone briefing ahead of the call, however. The written materials also prompted Trump to condemn the poisoning of a former spy in Great Britain, but Trump did not do so, according to the Washington Post.
The President’s applause of Putin’s win drew a rebuke from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Tuesday.
“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said in a statement. “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s remarks on the call, telling reporters that it’s “important to have a dialogue with Russia so we can focus on areas of shared interest.”