President Trump is getting a lot of backlash for congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection victory in a phone call Tuesday, and now reports have emerged Wednesday that White House chief of staff John Kelly is furious over leaked reports from the White House on the matter.
President Trump told reporters Tuesday that he had congratulated Putin on his victory, a move that has angered many officials, as they do not believe that Russia’s election was fair or legitimate.
The Washington Post came out with a bombshell report Tuesday evening, saying that Trump had been advised NOT to congratulate Putin, but ignored the warning and did it anyway.
President Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers Tuesday when he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection — including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to officials familiar with the call.
Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.
Wednesday morning, the Washington Examiner reported that Kelly is furious over the leak that Trump was warned not to congratulate Putin:
White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday plans to address the swift leak of guidance issued to President Trump not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his election “win” earlier in the week when they spoke on the phone, according to a report.
Kelly is furious, the official said, and will address the matter as aides look into who could have leaked the national security advisers’ Tuesday warning to Trump: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” CNN reported. Trump disregarded the guidance and congratulated Putin, and also ignored a request that he condemn the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in England, which several countries say is the work of Russia.
“This is unacceptable,” the official told CNN, adding that some believe the leak was made as an attempt to embarrass the president.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also condemned the president for congratulating Putin:
“I think Putin is a criminal. What he did in Georgia, what he did in Ukraine, what he did in Baltic, what he’s done in London poisoning people with active nerve gas, that’s a criminal act. I wouldn’t have a conversation with a criminal,” Grassley told reporters on Wednesday.
President Trump: “I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory … We’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.” pic.twitter.com/JGk9V2biwX
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 20, 2018