Donald Trump said Tuesday that only ‘stupid people’ doubt it would be a positive thing for the United States to have a positive relationship with Russia.
At the same time, however, he insisted his administration has been ‘tougher’ on Moscow than any other and conspicuously declined to declare whether Vladimir Putin is friend or foe.
During a working lunch with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Trump claimed his demands for greater cost-sharing among NATO allies have drawn in ‘many billions of dollars more than they would have had if you had Crooked Hillary Clinton as president.’
‘We’ve been very tough on Russia, frankly. But I will say that if we got along with Russia, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing. It’s possible we won’t,’ he said while the three NATO allies looked on, also appending China to his list of erstwhile friends worth reconciling with.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday during a meeting with Baltic leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House that no one has been tougher on Russia than he has
Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam
‘Getting along with Russia would be a good thing, not a bad thing,’ the president repeated, ‘and just about everybody agrees to that except very stupid people, okay?’
A reporter asked him whether Putin is a friend to America.
‘We’ll find out. I’ll let you know,’ Trump punted.
‘I mean, there’ll be a time when I’ll let you know. you’re going to find out very quickly.’
The administration confirmed Monday that Trump invited Putin to an arms summit when they spoke on March 20, after the Kremlin told reporters that the meeting could happen at the White House.
The president has faced pressure from Congress to drop the hammer on the Kremlin following an intelligence assesment that its spies meddled with the 2016 U.S. election.
Democrats claim his campaign colluded with Russia to influece the outcome, an unproven allegation that is the subject of a special counsel probe.
Trump punted on whether Putin is friend or foe to the U.S. but said only ‘stupid people’ don’t want to see the two countries get along
In December Trump green-lighted the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine, a former Soviet state that Putin’s army has invaded, and a part of which it annexed in early 2014.
The administration also closed a west-coast Russian consulate and expelled 60 of Moscow’s diplomats over the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russia spy in Great Britain.
That followed the shuttering of three other Russian diplomatic facilities in the U.S. and Treasury Department sanctions against 19 Russian nationals and five organizations in relation to election-year hacking.
In February the special counsel indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for their roles. That decision happened outside Trump’s sphere of influence.