President-elect Donald Trump on Friday lauded Russian President Vladimir Putin as “very smart” for not retaliating against the U.S. for new sanctions unveiled this week.
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted Friday.
Minutes after Trump’s tweet, the Russian Embassy in the United States of America retweeted the message on its account.
President Obama on Friday announced that 35 Russian officials were being expelled from the U.S. as well as a wide swath of economic sanctions.
The move was in retaliation after the U.S. intelligence community determined that Russia was behind hacks of Democratic operatives and groups during the election.
A secret CIA assessment reportedly determined that the Kremlin interfered in the election specifically to get Trump elected.
Russia and Trump have denied Moscow interfered in the election, with Trump framing the accusations as an attempt to delegitimize his Election Day victory.
Trump said in a statement Thursday evening that he will meet with the intelligence community for an update on the “facts of this situation.”
Putin on Friday announced he wouldn’t retaliate for Obama’s sanctions, instead waiting to work with Trump after his inauguration next month.
Both Trump and Putin have signaled they are looking forward to a warming between the two countries, but Trump’s reaction has drawn criticism from Democrats and some Republicans who believe Russia needs to be punished for the hacks.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Select Intelligence Committee, accused Russia of trying to control Trump with the “shrewd” decision to refuse to retaliate.
“The Russians hope to get everything they want from Donald Trump merely by flattering the man. So far, it’s been successful,” Schiff said Friday on MSNBC.
“If they can get what they want just by saying nice things about the man, why risk upsetting the apple cart over a few expulsions?”
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