President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized his three predecessors in defending his recent congratulatory call to President Vladimir Putin of Russia — a move that’s been widely criticized in the wake of news that Trump was specifically instructed not to congratulate Putin on his reelection.
“I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in the past, Obama called him also),” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “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.”
“They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race,” Trump followed up in another tweet. “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!”
Trump spoke with Putin on Tuesday, not only to commend him on “his electoral victory,” but also to discuss North Korea, Ukraine, Syria, arms control and a potential meeting between the two leaders in the “not-too-distant” future, according to the White House.
Reports emerged on Tuesday night that briefing materials prepared for Trump’s call specifically said “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” and further recommended that the president condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, which the United States and several allies have blamed the Kremlin for.
Trump ignored both of these recommendations; however, it remains unclear whether he fully read the notes telling him not to congratulate Putin.