In his first public comments since Russia expelled hundreds of US diplomats, President Trump thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for “letting go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll.”
“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump told reporters at his Bedminster, N.J. golf club in his first public comments on the extraordinary move by Moscow in response to new sanctions legislation that Trump signed into law.
trump literally thanks Putin for expelling 755 U.S. staff from our Embassy in Moscow.
Me: He's thanking a murderer.pic.twitter.com/ut08COt00m
— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) August 10, 2017
“There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States,” he continued. “We’re going to save a lot of money.”
Putin announced late last month that his government had lost patience that its relationship with the U.S. would improve and ordered the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia must cut its staff by 755 people.
Russia issued the expulsions in retaliation for new sanctions the U.S. imposed on the Kremlin. The sanctions are in response to Russia’s suspected attempts to meddle in last year’s U.S. presidential election through a disinformation campaign and cyberattacks on Democratic Party officials.