Trump said Friday that the call ― which sparked controversy in part because he acknowledged he did not raise the issue of election interference with Putin ― was “probably more than an hour.”
Putin urged Trump to “ease the sanction pressure” on North Korea as that nation makes a “good-faith fulfillment of its commitment,” apparently to denuclearize, the Russian embassy said on Facebook.
The phone conversation occurred the day before Kim Jong Un’s regime fired a barrage of unidentified projectiles into the Sea of Japan. A North Korean statement on Saturday said the test of “large-caliber long-range” rocket launchers and “tactical guided weapons” was intended to “increase the combat ability” of the country.
Putin also “underscored” that no nation should interfere in the politics of Venezuela, according to the Facebook statement.
Trump said that Putin is “not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela,” even though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Russia was aiding Nicolas Maduro’s regime in the South American country that is embroiled in domestic discord. “The Russians have people working over there in the hundreds, if not more,” said Pompeo, who warned last week that U.S. “military action is an option” in the nation.
Trump tweeted again on Saturday about his “very good call” with Putin, blasted the “fake news media” for focusing on other matters and touted the “potential for a good/great relationship with Russia.”
On Friday, Trump had tweeted that he and Putin discussed the “Russian hoax” at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between the president’s 2016 campaign and Russia’s well-documented efforts to interfere with that election. Mueller’s probe concluded that it did not find evidence of a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign but, backed by findings by U.S. intelligence, declared that Russia interfered in the election “in sweeping and systematic fashion.”
Trump said Putin “sort of smiled” (though Trump could not see him on the phone) as they discussed the “Russian hoax,” and quoted him as saying that what “started off as a mountain ... ended up being a mouse.”
The FBI has already warned of a “significant counterintelligence threat” of Kremlin interference in the 2020 presidential election.