Advisers wrote DO NOT CONGRATULATE on briefing newspapers but chairman suggests he has the smart-aleckies to deal with Russian leader

Donald Trump defended himself against criticism over his congratulatory phone call to Vladimir Putin following the Russian president's recent re-election, insisting on Wednesday afternoon it was in US interests to maintain a positive rapport with Moscow.

Trump addressed the call in a series of tweets, hours after it was reported that he eluded a particular warning from his national security team not to congratulate Putin on his securing of a fourth term in power.

” I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory( in past, Obama called him also ),” Trump said.” The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Get together with Russia( and others) is a good thing , not a bad thing …….”

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory( in past, Obama called him also ). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Get along with Russia( and others) is a good thing , not a bad thing…….

March 21, 2018

He added:” They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race. Bush tried to get along, but didn't have the “smarts.” Obama and Clinton tried, but didn't have the energy or chemistry( recollect RESET ). PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH !”

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

…..They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race. Bush tried to get along, but didn't have the “smarts.” Obama and Clinton tried, but didn't have the energy or chemistry( recollect RESET ). PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!

March 21, 2018

.

Trump's comments came amid widespread backlash over the call, which reinforced the perception that his administration has adopted a less aggressive posture toward Russia.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that Trump's national security advisers had presented him with written briefing materials in capitals saying ” DO NOT CONGRATULATE”, the paper said citing officials.

It was not clear if Trump, who prefers to hear briefings, read the notes, sources said.

Barack Obama did call Putin and congratulated him when Putin was re-elected in 2012, according to a report of government officials readout at the time. But the state department expressed concerns over the legitimacy of the Russian elections at the time.

Trump's conversation with Putin also described scrutiny for occurring amid escalating tension and fear over Russian meddling in the US electoral process, which the two leaders failed to discuss. There was also no mention of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the former double agent targeted with a nerve agent in the UK.

Trump corroborated Tuesday he had called Putin to” congratulate him on his electoral victory”, and the two would” likely coming together in the not too distant future so that we can discuss the arms race “.

The Arizona Republican senator John McCain said Trump had” insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election “.

On Wednesday, John Brennan, ex-CIA, backed McCain and described Trump as a” cornered animal”, telling MSNBC:” I suppose the president has shown a lack of understanding of international affairs as well as a real ignorance of what it takes to be president .”

Trump on Wednesday assaulted the Russia investigation.

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

” Special Council is told to find crimes, whether a crime exists or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller to be Special Council. I am still opposed to it. I suppose President Trump was right when he said there never should have been a Special Council appointed because…..

March 21, 2018

Brennan, asked on MSNBC if he thought the Russians had something on Trump, called him “fawning” and said:” The Russians have had long experience with Mr Trump and they may have things that they could expose .”

Trump has denied any collusion or any wrongdoing in his links with Russia.

Read more: www.theguardian.com