Russia: Johnson Putin-Hitler remark 'disgusting, unacceptable'

Delia Walker
March 24, 2018

"An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections", the veteran member of Congress said.

But his administration has, of late, been extremely tough on the Russians via the implementation of sanctions over election meddling and through Nikki Haley's actions condemning them in the British spy poisoning attack.

"The threat of interference remains", Homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on election security.

Maintaining Russia's defense capabilities will also remain among his priorities, he said, but promised that "there will be no increase in spending, no arms race".

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and other British lawmakers said that Vladimir Putin will use the upcoming World Cup as a public relations tool the same way Adolf Hitler used the Olympics to raise the profile of Nazi Germany.

On Wednesday, Trumptweeted: "I called President Putin of Russian Federation to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also)".

The Putin phone-call leak recalls Trump's early months in office, which were plagued with leaks about phone conversations with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

According to the Kremlin, Trump and Putin discussed the need to restrict the arms race between the two nations.

The leak, which one CNN report described as contributing to the ongoing atmosphere of paranoia in the West Wing, has irked White House aides and infuriated Chief of Staff John Kelly who is working to find out who the leak is.

Only individuals at the very highest levels of the administration would have known about the details of the call.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the hunt for the leaker was underway.

And Mueller has charged 13 Russians with conspiring to subvert the 2016 election and put Trump in the White House.

Mr. Johnson's remarks drew anger in Moscow, where Maria Zakharova, the Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman, said in a statement: "There isn't the slightest doubt now that all of London's actions in terms of Russian Federation are aimed at creating an image of an enemy". In the intervening years, Putin has become an increasingly authoritarian leader who has crushed most of his political opposition and engineered a deeply lopsided re-election this week. A British police officer also fell ill from exposure to the substance, which British officials believe was the military-grade nerve agent Novichok.

Trump defended his call in a series of tweets, pointing out that Obama had also congratulated Putin, during his presidency.

For critics, Trump's call offered Putin legitimacy while giving him a wedge to drive between Western allies and within the White House itself. But now White House now concedes, the president never raised the issue, and that is not all.

"I don't like that he did it, but you know what I like even less?" He added, "I really hate that there's someone in his inner circle that's willing to leak this stuff".

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called the leak a "bigger outrage" than Trump's congratulations for Putin.

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