White House Fires Back After WaPo Claims President Trump ‘Ignored’ Warning Not To Congratulate Putin

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
Font Size:

President Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for a phone call, made in the presence of his National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, during which he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on winning re-election.

The attacks quickly mounted from both sides, as liberal and conservative critics alike expressed their concern that a congratulatory message from an American president could be viewed as giving a certain amount of legitimacy to an election that would otherwise be viewed as little more than a sham.

Others noted that, according to the Kremlin’s report on the phone call, President Trump did not take the opportunity to challenge Putin on the recent poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the U.K. — despite the fact that Trump has said he believes Russia to be responsible for the attack.

But then the reports began circulating — first courtesy of the Washington Post — that President Trump was warned specifically not to congratulate Putin via a pre-call memo:

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.

However, Fox News’ John Roberts noted that there might be more to that story:

And the drama has continued to unfold, as both President Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly are reportedly furious that the contents of a confidential briefing may have been leaked. Without confirming the contents of the alleged memo, a senior White House official told CNN: “If this story is accurate, that means someone leaked the President’s briefing papers. Leaking such information is a fireable offense and likely illegal.”

Even in the face of backlash, however, President Trump is standing by his decision to congratulate Putin: