President Trump called out to Vladimir Putin to offer congratulations after his election victory this past weekend.
However, it was disclosed today that Trump's National security team instructed him NOT TO CONGRATULATE Putin for the win. It was leaked that the staff even put the instructions in bold letters "DO NOT CONGRATULATE", but Trump did it right off the bat anyways.
Before making calls to other dignitaries, presidents are supplied with a call sheet by advisers on the purpose of the call, and suggestions on what to say and not say. The call sheet also contains suggestions what else the president might bring up if there is time, or what things the other party might bring up and how to react to those topics. The idea is to keep the call on track and to be prepared for topics that may be brought up.
In his call to Putin, Trump either did not read the call sheet, or didn't care what his advisers thought.
Why did Trump's advisors, and almost all members of Congress believe the president shouldn't congratulate Putin?
- Putin's win wasn't a victory for democracy, the election was fixed.
- Putin had his opposition jailed multiple times
- Putin had his opposition removed from the ballot
- Russians opposed to Putin are beaten, poisoned, jailed and killed
- Putin controls the state-run media, how it praises him and blasts the opposition
- Great Britain has recently accused Putin of ordering the killing of a dissident in London
- There is evidence that Putin oversaw the Russian meddling in the US elections
So why did he? Perhaps he didn’t read the call brief. Perhaps he felt that nobody will tell him what to do, and if they write “DO NOT DO ____” then that is exactly what he will do just out of spite.
So how did members of Congress react when they found out? Here’s a brief sample:
An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election. https://t.co/lcQTBi7CA1
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) March 20, 2018
Bush, Obama and Clinton may lack your “smarts,” but they didn’t need their staff to tell them DO NOT CONGRATULATE a man who helps North Korea evade sanctions, props up a murderer in Syria, invades his neighbors, and who just used nerve agent in Britain. https://t.co/PIyrthKydu
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 21, 2018
The White House wants the leak to be the story. The leak is not the story. The story is that the President of the United States was explicitly told by his national security team, DO NOT CONGRATULATE Vladimir Putin on his sham re-election and he did it any way, right off the bat.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) March 21, 2018
Senator John McCain went on to dismissed the election as a “sham” and said Trump “insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country's future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin's regime.”
However, the White House was much more perturbed that the brief with "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" was leaked rather than the fact that Trump continues not to hold Putin accountable for his atrocities.