On Thursday, Trump was asked what he thought about Putin’s decision to reduce the American diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 employees. Putin had made the decision in response to sweeping sanctions placed onto the nation for interfering with the 2016 American election, in addition to its annexation of Crimea.
Trump raised some eyebrows in his response to the question from a reporter, thanking Putin for expelling the diplomats because it would save the U.S. money in the long run.
“I want to thank (Putin) because we’re trying to cut down our payroll,” Trump said. “And as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a similar payroll.”
Watch a video of his full response below:
Congress had reached an agreement on the sanctions to punish Russia, and sent the bill to Trump’s desk for his signature in late July. There were talks that he may not sign the sanctions into law, but he ended up doing so August 2. But he wasn’t happy with part of the bill that limited his power to set foreign policy by requiring waiting periods before he’s allowed to suspend or remove sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama while Congress reviews the move.
After signing the bill, Trump said it “included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions,” adding that he would still honor the waiting periods even though he disagreed with them.
The legislation also included sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
Read the statement his office released to media regarding the bill below:
This bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.
Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people and will drive China, Russia and North Korea much closer together.
Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.