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Trump, Putin discuss Mueller probe in first conversation since report’s release

President Trump on Friday spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in their first known conversation since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

{mosads}In a pair of tweets, Trump called the discussion “very productive” and said a variety of issues came up, including what the president called “the Russian Hoax.”

“Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia. 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 wrote roughly an hour after the call was first announced. 

 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Mueller’s report on Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election came up “very, very briefly” during the call, which lasted more than an hour, and both leaders agreed that “it’s over and there was no collusion.”

Sanders said the special counsel’s finding that there was no criminal conspiracy between Trump and Russia is something “both leaders were well aware of long before this call took place” and “they moved on” to discuss other topics.

She would not say whether Trump confronted Putin over Russia’s election-meddling efforts, which were laid out in detail in Mueller’s 448-page report, and instead blamed former President Barack Obama’s administration for not doing enough to deter the Kremlin’s activities during the election.

Trump was widely criticized after a July 2018 summit meeting with Putin, during which he failed to publicly confront the Russian leader about his government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential contest.

The two leaders also discussed the crisis in Venezuela, nuclear agreements, North Korean denuclearization, Ukraine and trade, according to Sanders.

She reiterated that “all options continue to be on the table” in Venezuela, where Putin is supporting the besieged government of Nicolás Maduro.

Trump’s “primary focus” during the call was on “making clear that the United States stands with the people of Venezuela” and ensuring they have access to food, water and medical supplies, according to Sanders.

Top U.S. officials earlier this week blamed Russia for foiling a plan force Maduro out from leading the South American country to make way for Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. and dozens of other nations recognize as Venezuela’s interim president.

Trump also discussed the possibility of extending an existing nuclear arms-control deal between the U.S. and Russia and brokering a new one involving China, Sanders said.

The president has directed his staff to begin working toward a new trilateral nuclear agreement with Russia and China, according to media reports. The current U.S.-Russia strategic arms deal, known as New START, is set to expire in 2021.

Tensions flared between Moscow and Washington, however, after the Trump administration declared it would withdraw from the Reagan-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing violations by Russia.

Updated at 1:10 p.m.

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Mueller report Robert Mueller Russia Sarah Huckabee Special Counsel investigation Vladimir Putin
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