Since his recent phone call congratulating Vladimir Putin on his re-election as Russian president, US President Donald Trump has faced backlash for his alleged fraternisation with a foreign dictator. Since then, Trump has defended his actions despite reports that he was explicitly warned not to congratulate Putin in a pre-call briefing.
President Trump drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans with both sides of the political spectrum calling the Russian election a sham. News media reported that Trump was warned prior to his phone to “not congratulate” Vladimir Putin on his re-election.
While the report was not disputed by the White House, it was implied that whoever leaked them may be subjected to dismissal. A close associate of Trump, who remains anonymous, said that Trump was angry that the documents were leaked.
A White House official told the media that John Kelly, the chief of staff, was both “deeply disappointed” that the leak was able to take place.
In a series of Twitter updated referencing his phone call with Putin, Donald Trump said that his initiative to be friendly with Putin was a “good thing” and that he refused to follow the expectations of new organisations to “excoriate” the Russian president.
Trump said in his tweets that a good relationship with Putin could help “solve problems” in several areas including Iran, Syria and North Korea. Trump also referred to an “Arms Race” with Russia.
Trump’s congratulation to Putin came not long after recent allegations of a cyber-attack by the Kremlin on the US energy grid. During this time Trump also criticised, along with Britain, a poison attack against a former Russian spy believer to be ordered by Russia.
Trump’s friendly attitude towards Putin has drawn harsh criticism from across the political spectrum, many believing the US president is undermining international interests by being tolerant of Putin’s dictatorship. Many see Trump’s congratulation to Putin as an endorsement of a rigged election system in Russia.
It has certainly been an awkward week for the US president. Having campaigned on his ability to be a persuasive political dealmaker, Donald Trump seems to have made more enemies than friends since his election in late 2016.
In balancing tensions with North Korea, China and somewhat with Russia, many are unsure of where Trump really stands. Many onlookers are fearful that Trump will unnecessarily lead the United States, and many other nations, into an ego-fuelled conflict with rival superpowers.