News & Politics

Trump, Putin Discuss Mueller Probe and 'Russian Hoax'

Trump, Putin Discuss Mueller Probe and 'Russian Hoax'
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

On Friday, President Donald Trump had a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump discussed the Robert Mueller probe into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Had a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia. As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing,” the president tweeted.

Trump laid out the subjects he discussed with Putin: “We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the ‘Russian Hoax.’ Very productive talk!”

Sanders told reporters that the Mueller report came up “very, very briefly” during the call, which lasted more than an hour. Both leaders agreed that “it’s over and there was no collusion.”

Despite constant scandal-mongering from the liberal press, the Mueller report found that there was no collusion between Trump and the Russian government. The report also did not recommend obstruction of justice charges against Trump, although it laid out potential obstructive acts.

The report did confirm previous Intelligence Committee determinations that Russia did attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, however. Some might argue that Trump’s discussion of this probe with Putin is problematic, but it seems as though Trump only briefly mentioned it, rightly noting that the report found “no collusion.”

Some liberal commentators argued that Trump’s discussion with Putin might constitute collusion now.

“Trump might as well have told Putin, ‘You’re cleared to keep up your attack on our democracy, Vlad. Except I can’t quite say it that way, if you catch my drift. We still have the death penalty for treason. Yuck yuck,'” Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe tweeted.

Trump did condemn efforts by Russia or any other country to interfere in America’s elections during the 2016 election. Most recently, Trump attacked Putin’s Russia for sending troops into Venezuela, demanding Russia remove the troops.

President Trump arguably should continue to make it clear to Putin that Russia’s attempts to influence American elections are unacceptable, but the president wants to maintain a good relationship with Putin. How he balances those imperatives are his prerogative, although I would like to hear him condemn Russian interference more vocally.

Americans do not fully know the extent of the phone call, however, and any suggestion that Trump encouraged Putin to interfere in American elections is ludicrous. Trump did not commit treason by talking with Putin, any more than FDR committed treason when negotiating with Joseph Stalin — even though Stalin was trying to interfere in American politics.

Democrats should dial back the collusion hysteria.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.