Trump spoke with Putin about Mueller report during hour long phone call, White House says
The president tweeted about the call shortly after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told journalists the special counsel’s report was discussed “very, very briefly” between the two world leaders.
“Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia,” Mr Trump wrote Friday. “As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
“We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the ‘Russian Hoax,’” he wrote in a follow-up tweet, adding, “Very productive talk!”
It was not immediately clear whether the White House would provide a readout from the phone call. Ms Sanders did not answer questions from reporters about whether Mr Trump discussed Russian interference with Mr Putin during their first call since the conclusion of the special counsel investigation.
“The conversation on that part was very quick,” Ms Sanders said Friday. “But what I can tell you is that this administration, unlike the previous one, takes election meddling seriously. And we're going to do everything that we can to prevent it from happening. That's why we've taken a whole-of-government approach."
She added that the report was discussed “essentially in the context that it's over and there was no collusion, which I'm pretty sure both leaders were both very well aware of long before this call took place."
Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia. As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
The White House also said the main purpose for the phone call was about the economic and political crisis in Venezuela that has led to clashes between protestors and Nicolas Maduro’s regime. While the US has called for opposition leader Juan Guaido to serve as the nation’s next president, Russia and China have backed Mr Maduro as he battles back against international calls to step down after an election last year largely reported to be fraudulent.
“The President reiterated the need for a peaceful transition and his focus throughout the conversation was on the need to help the people and make sure that the aid was actually getting to them and being delivered," Ms Sanders said.
The conversation between both world leaders arrived the same week Mr Trump’s attorney general testified on Capitol Hill about his handling of the special counsel’s report.
Politicians grilled him on whether the White House had suggested he launch an investigation into anyone, which he was unable to clearly answer, while others expressed dissatisfaction with a four-page summary he wrote ahead of the report’s release that attempted to clear the president of any wrongdoing.
Mr Trump has long decried the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt,” despite Mr Mueller finding “sweeping and systematic” interference in the 2016 elections on the part of the Russians.