President Trump on Wednesday ripped critics and the “Fake News Media” for bashing him for not taking a tougher stance during his congratulatory phone chat with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
“I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). 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,” Trump tweeted just before 3 p.m.
”They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race. 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!” he added moments later.
GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona and others harshly rebuked the president after the call for not addressing Russia’s election meddling or the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK.
“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said.
The storm over Trump’s call to Putin grew into an uproar over White House leaks, sparking an internal investigation and speculation over who might be the next person Trump forces out of the West Wing.
The administration said in a statement it would be a “fireable offense and likely illegal” to leak Trump’s briefing papers to the press, after word emerged that the president had been warned in briefing materials to not congratulate the Russian president on his re-election.
Trump did so anyway during a Tuesday conversation, and CNN reported that he did not read the briefing.