Leaders talk Russia probe, N. Korea | News Coverage from USA

Leaders talk Russia probe, N. Korea

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump called Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday, their first talk since special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his report on Russian election interference – an investigation Trump labeled a “hoax” in his summary of the call.

“We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the ‘Russian Hoax,'” Trump tweeted about his discussion with Putin. “Very productive talk!”

The president described the 1-hour call as “a long and very good conversation.” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said they discussed the end of the Mueller investigation “very briefly.”

“As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump tweeted.

The two leaders also discussed a possible nuclear weapons reduction deal involving the U.S., Russia and China, as well as the stalled negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons programs, officials said.

Other topics included civil unrest in Venezuela and Russian activity in Ukraine, she said.

The Trump-Putin relationship has been a source of endless speculation and controversy.

Critic said Trump has been too deferential to the Russian leader. The American president has said in the past he believes Putin’s denials that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, taking his word over that of U.S. intelligence community.

Mueller’s team investigated possible connections between Trump and Putin. But it concluded there was no evidence of coordination between the U.S. president’s campaign and Russians who hacked Democratic emails and pushed fake news about Trump opponent Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

Trump has said no one has been harder on Russia than him, citing ongoing sanctions on Putin’s government over Ukraine and the election interference. 

U.S. intelligence officials believe Putin authorized the Russian election operation.

 

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