Trump thanks Putin for cutting US diplomats: ‘We want to reduce our payroll’

President Trump thanked Russian President on Thursday for ordering the U.S. to cut its diplomatic staff by 755 people, his first public comments on the extraordinary move by Moscow in response to new sanctions legislation that Trump signed into law.

Trump said he was thanking Putin because the decision allows the U.S. government to “cut down our payroll.”

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump told reporters at his Bedminster, N.J. golf club.

“There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States,” he continued. “We’re going to save a lot of money.”

ADVERTISEMENTPutin announced last month that the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia must cut its staff by 755 people, saying that his government had lost patience that its relationship with the U.S. would improve.

The Russian president’s decision came after Congress overwhelmingly passed new sanctions targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea. The sanctions against Russia were prompted by the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that the Kremlin sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and sway the race in Trump’s favor.

Putin has denied that his government was involved in the meddling efforts. 

Trump reluctantly signed the sanctions into law, arguing they infringed on his presidential powers.

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