by WorldTribune Staff, March 22, 2018
Amid a torrent of mainstream media criticism, the White House on March 21 defended President Donald Trump’s decision to make a congratulatory call to Russian President Vladimir Putin after his recent re-election victory.
In a pair of tweets on his call with Putin, Trump said U.S. news organizations “wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
“They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race,” Trump said.
Many observers called the process of Putin’s re-election a “sham.” He won with over 70 percent of the vote, but the candidate who was considered his top rival, Alexei Navalny, was prohibited from running.
In 2012, President Barack Obama phoned then-Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his presidential election victory, a fact most MSM outlets did not mention in criticizing Trump.
International observers had also raised doubts about the legitimacy of Putin’s 2012 win.
“President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election,” according to the official summary, or “readout” of the March 9, 2012 call.
At a nuclear disarmament summit in Seoul in March 2012, Obama was caught on a hot mic talking to Russian President (at the time) Dimitri Medvedev. “This is my last election,” Obama said. “After my election I have more flexibility.”
Sen. John McCain slammed Trump’s congratulatory call to Putin.
McCain tweeted: “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.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a March 20 news briefing: “The president, once again, has maintained that it’s important for us to have a dialogue with Russia so that we can focus on some areas of shared interest. At the same time, we are going to continue to be tough on them.”
Asked if Russia had “free and fair” elections, Sanders said “what we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country, and that’s not something that we can dictate to them how they operate.”