Brushing off Putin, Trump says fewer diplomats saves money

BEDMINISTER, NJ (AP) – President Donald Trump on Thursday brushed off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to expel hundreds of US diplomatic employees from Russia, instead thanking Putin and insisting it would save the US significant cash.

In remarks to reporters at his golf course in central New Jersey, Trump dismissed Putin’s move, saying he “greatly” appreciated Putin’s help cutting down the payroll at the US State Department.

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll,” Trump said, adding: “As far as I am concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. So, I greatly appreciate the fact that they’ve been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We’ll save a lot of money.”

It was unclear whether the president was joking at all in his remarks, which were made following a security briefing held during an extended working vacation at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the president’s remarks.

President Putin during his vacation in the remote Tuva region in southern Siberia. - AFP
President Putin during his vacation in the remote Tuva region in southern Siberia. – AFP