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Newsline: Trump says was being ‘sarcastic’ in thanking Putin for embassy staff cuts

President Donald Trump said on Friday he was being sarcastic when he thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for saving the United States money by ordering cuts in U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia. Asked whether he was being sarcastic, Trump told reporters: “In order to reduce our payroll, absolutely. I think you know that,” Trump said without explicitly criticizing the move. Breaking nearly two weeks of silence on Putin’s July 30 order cutting U.S. embassy and consulate staff by nearly two thirds, Trump said on Thursday: “I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” adding “there’s no real reason for them to go back.” Trump’s remarks rekindled criticism of his kid-glove handling of Putin, especially as he has not shied away from being highly critical of members of his own party, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Putin, reacting to new sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress and reluctantly signed into law by Trump, ordered Washington to cut its diplomatic and technical staff by 755 people by Sept. 1. Many of those affected likely will be local Russian staffers. It was also a reaction to former President Barack Obama expelling 35 Russian diplomats from the United States last December over the intelligence agency reports.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-diplomats-sarcasm-idUSKBN1AR24L

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