BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Trump offered gratitude rather than outrage on Thursday for Russia’s decision to force the United States Embassy in Moscow to slash its personnel by 755 people, despite bipartisan condemnation from other American leaders who protested the Cold War-style move.
President Vladimir V. Putin last month ordered the seizure of two American diplomatic properties and directed the American Embassy staff in Russia be cut by more than half in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Congress because of Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election in the United States.
“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on 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,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “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’ll save a lot of money.”
Mr. Trump said it with a somewhat light tone, but it was not clear if he was joking. A request to his spokeswoman for clarification was not immediately returned.
Either way, Mr. Trump’s comment was in keeping with his practice of not criticizing Mr. Putin — no matter how tense relations between the two countries have grown.