Chief of Staff John Kelly is reportedly furious after someone in President Trump's national security inner circle leaked sensitive information to the press yesterday.
The leak, which came Tuesday afternoon, revealed that President Trump was advised not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election campaign. That information came out in media reports after Trump revealed during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House that he had congratulated Putin during a phone call.
"I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory -- his electoral victory. The call had to do, also, with the fact that we will probably get together in the not-too-distant future so that we can discuss arms, we can discuss the arms race. As you know, he made a statement that being in an arms race is not a great thing. That was right after the election -- one of the first statements he made," Trump said. "And we are spending $700 billion this year on our military, and a lot of it is that we are going to remain stronger than any other nation in the world by far."
"We had a very good call, and I suspect that we'll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have. And also to discuss Ukraine and Syria and North Korea and various other things," he continued. "So I think, probably, we'll be seeing President Putin in the not-too-distant future."
Shortly after the remarks, it was reported Trump was strictly advised in a national security briefing memo "NOT TO CONGRATULATE."
The leak is a fireable offense and some have said it could be actionable by law. Chief of Staff Kelly plans to find out who it did it.
And after Obama called to congratulate him, he invited Putin to Camp David for a G-8 meeting. https://t.co/HrqfQwtasD— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) March 21, 2018
Who leaks this stuff? This WH still is disloyal to the president and to each other. What a mess. https://t.co/COnvU4MjKT— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) March 20, 2018
It should be noted Trump isn't the first U.S. president or world leader to congratulate Putin on re-election, even when rampant voter fraud tainted the results. President Obama did the same in 2012. Trump addressed the controversy Wednesday afternoon.
I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2018
.....They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race. Bush tried to get along, but didn’t have the “smarts.” Obama and Clinton tried, but didn’t have the energy or chemistry (remember RESET). PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2018