Trump, Putin Talk on the Phone for an Hour, Discuss Venezuela and 'Russian Hoax'
President Donald Trump said he had a “very productive” hour-long phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday and the topic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation came up.
Trump told reporters at the White House the two leaders briefly discussed the Russia probe during the video conference call.
“(Putin) sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started up as a mountain and ended up being a mouse,” the president recounted. “But he knew that because he knew that there was no collusion whatsoever.”
Pres. Trump says he discussed the Mueller report with Putin: “It started off as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse” https://t.co/aYIcGo5zvO pic.twitter.com/o6mQg1UE4u
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 3, 2019
Trump was questioned whether he admonished Putin not to meddle in the upcoming election.
The chief executive replied they did not discuss the topic.
Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that other issues he and Putin addressed were: “Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the ‘Russian Hoax.”
“Very productive talk!” he added. “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.”
….We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the “Russian Hoax.” Very productive talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
Regarding trade, Trump told reporters, “We intend to do a lot of trade with Russia. We do some right now. It’s up a little bit. He’d like to do trade and we’d like to do trade.”
On the issue of Venezuela, the president said that Putin claimed he is not looking to intervene in the South American nation, but would “like to see something positive happen for Venezuela.”
In March, Trump called on Russia to remove the 100 soldiers and two fighter jets it sent to Venezuela to bolster the regime of Nicolás Maduro, ABC News reported.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox Business Network on Tuesday, “I hear people talk about, they don’t want the U.S. to intervene in Venezuela, when in fact it’s the Russians who have intervened, and they’ve done so without the consent of the government.”
The secretary of state said the Russians came in with Maduro’s consent, but not with the permission of interim President Juan Guaidó, who the United States and over 50 other nations have recognized as the legitimate leader.
But for Russia’s involvement, Pompeo believes Maduro would have already stepped down.
“It is very clear that Maduro had intended to leave, he had his plane ready, and the Russians made clear he ought not depart at this time,” he said.
Reporters also questioned White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Friday about Russian election meddling.
“What I can tell you is that this administration, unlike the previous one, takes election meddling seriously,” she said.
“(We) are looking at ways to actually prevent it from taking place instead of, like they did in 2016, just letting it happen, knowing about and doing nothing and then trying to blame the incoming administration,” she added.
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