In a pair of tweets Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed, among other topics, the “Russian Hoax.”
It appears to be the first time Trump has spoken with Putin since the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking with reporters, said that the Mueller report was only discussed “very, very briefly” and “in the context that it’s over and there was no collusion, which I’m pretty sure both leaders were both very well aware of long before this call took place.”
But Trump has already been criticized for the way in which he appeared to depict Putin as an ally in matters related to the Mueller investigation, given the Russian government’s confirmed role in attempting to sway the election. “A hostile foreign power attacked our democracy,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a tweet. “The president welcomed that attack, obstructed the investigation into it, & is now cozying up with the leader who orchestrated it. Congress needs to do its job, stand up for our national security, and begin impeachment proceedings.”
Sanders told reporters that the call lasted more than an hour—as the New York Times pointed out, that makes it one of Trump’s longest calls with a foreign leader.
Asked if Trump pressed Putin on the 2016 election meddling, Sanders avoided a direct response. “[W]hat I can tell you is that this administration, unlike the previous one, takes election meddling seriously,” she said. “And we’re going to do everything that we can to prevent it from happening. That’s why we’ve taken a whole-of-government approach.”