After President Barack Obama on Thursday announced retaliatory measures against the Russian government for what the U.S. has concluded were efforts to interfere in the election, President-elect Donald Trump’s response was terse and dismissive, saying it was time to “move on to bigger and better things.”
But after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that he would not respond in kind to the U.S. actions — preferring to wait until the new administration takes office — Trump weighed in with high praise.
Trump’s tweet did not appear to be off the cuff. As if to underscore his sentiment, Trump affixed the tweet to the top of his Twitter feed. And he posted an Instagram photo shortly after, quoting himself.
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!” Trump’s tweet said.
Trump’s effusive words were particularly striking given the bipartisan view of Putin as more adversary than ally.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said they supported the Obama administration’s move to expel Russian diplomats and block access to two properties owned by its government.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., is expected to call a hearing on Russia’s cyberactivities when the new Congress convenes next week.
A Trump transition spokesman was asked earlier Friday whether Trump had spoken or planned to speak with Putin before his inauguration.
“The priority right now is for the president(-elect) to get an update next week from the intelligence community,” Sean Spicer said.
Trump’s praise did get tacit approval from some quarters. The Russian Embassy in Washington retweeted it.
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