Brushing off Putin, Trump says fewer diplomats saves money

Jordaan Di Yulio  Flickr

Jordaan Di Yulio Flickr

About one week into his 17-day "working vacation", President Donald Trump said "thanks" to Russian President Vladimir Putin for expelling USA diplomats in the country. "There's no real reason for them to go back". So I greatly appreciate the fact that we've been able to cut our payroll of the United States. "We're going to save a lot of money".

Trump had been asked to respond to Putin's sign-off on the Russian Foreign Ministry's July 28 anouncement that Washington, DC must reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, down from about 1,200.

In remarks to reporters Thursday, Trump dismissed Putin's move, saying it would "cut down our payroll" at the State Department.

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Trump campaigned on slashing government spending and the budget the Trump administration submitted this year would cut the State Department's budget by roughly 32%. The sanctions against Russian Federation were prompted by the US intelligence community's conclusion that the Kremlin sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and sway the race in Trump's favor. The bill passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, and Trump signed it in into law, though he did so while calling it "seriously flawed" and attaching a signing statement that detailed what he deemed its "unconstitutional provisions".

Last month, the Kremlin demanded that Washington reduce its diplomatic footprint in Russian Federation by 755 employees - both USA diplomats and local staff - and close two compounds.

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