Following reports of Donald Trump’s continued disinterest in all things pertaining to Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election, the president shared a jovial conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. According to Politico, the two world leaders spoke about pressing diplomatic matters — like the escalating conflict with North Korea — but Trump subsequently turned their chat into a forthright “thank you” for Putin’s previous praise for the American economy at his annual television address earlier that day.
Per Politico, Trump and Putin spoke for about 10 minutes:
Trump also used the call to thank Putin for “acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” according to a White House read out of the call.
Despite the call’s brevity, that Trump — whose election campaign has been accused of, and is being investigated for, possible collusion with Russia — was quick to thank Putin for America’s bustling economy is telling. It is, after all, one of the American president’s favorite subjects (to tweet about). What’s more, as Politico notes, “The call offered fresh evidence that Trump will continue to work with Putin, despite potential political liabilities.” As for what Putin said that pleased Trump so much:
“We see some quite serious achievements, even in this short period of time that he’s been working,” Putin said. “Look at the markets, how they’ve risen. That shows investors’ confidence in the American economy. It shows they believe in what President Trump is doing in this area.”
The Russian president also told reporters the hysteria surrounding Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion was “invented” and without merit. “All of this has been invented, made up by people who are in opposition to President Trump,” he claimed. Putin also said he and Trump refer to each other by their first names whenever the two converse on the phone or in person.