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    Former U.S. ambassador to Russia: It’s ‘shocking’ Trump thanked Putin for his praise

    The former U.S. ambassador to Russia said Friday that it was “shocking” that President Trump was allowed to call Russian President Vladimir Putin and thank him for praising the U.S. economy.
    Michael McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia under former President Obama, said on MSNBC that the call was “not in the national interest.”
    “It’s shocking to me that that phone call gets to go through,” McFaul said, apparently blaming the president’s staff for either not advising against it or not swaying Trump.
    The White House put out a statement saying that Trump spoke with Putin by phone on Thursday to discuss North Korea, and that during the call, Trump thanked Putin for his recent praise of the U.S. economy.
    “President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” the statement read.
    The Kremlin said that Trump requested the call.
    “Vladimir Putin knows that saying nice things about Trump elicits these kinds of responses,” McFaul said.
    He added that he was surprised that the call was permitted, given the process by which phone calls between world leaders are vetted. He noted that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster would have had to brief Trump on whether such a call would be wise.
    “[If] you do a call package … McMaster briefs the president on the wisdom or not of making such a call,” McFaul said. “To me, this does not serve America’s national interest to make that call.”

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