Donald Trump thanks Vladimir Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll,” Trump said from Bedminster, N.J.

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Russian President Vladimir Putin expelled hundreds of U.S. diplomats from Russia, a move that would ordinarily result in a spiraling deterioration in diplomatic relations.

But President Trump? He’s not mad.

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people – because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered that the U.S. embassy cut 755 positions by Sept. 1, which would leave 455 U.S. diplomatic personnel in the country.

The move, ordered by Putin, was meant to be a punishment for tough new U.S. financial sanctions against Russia. Congress pushed the sanctions to target Russia for its campaign of cyberattacks and fake news to influence the presidential election.

Yet Trump said on Thursday, “there’s no real reason for them to go back.”

“We’re going to save a lot of money,” he added.

The sanctions were passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by Trump last week.

They also bar Trump, who has sought better relations with Moscow, from easing or waiving penalties for Russia without congressional approval.

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