Trump Offers Putin Thanks, Not Critique, for Throwing Out U.S. Diplomats

Trump Offers Putin Thanks, Not Critique, for Throwing Out U.S. Diplomats
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President Trump, joined by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, left, and Vice President Mike Pence, speaks to reporters after a security briefing at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

Al Drago for The New York Times

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Trump offered gratitude rather than outrage on Thursday for Russia’s decision to force the United States Embassy in Moscow to slash its personnel by 755 people, despite earlier bipartisan condemnation from other American leaders who had protested the Cold War-style move.

Mr. Trump’s comment was in keeping with his practice of not criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, no matter how tense relations between the two countries have grown.

Mr. Putin seized two American diplomatic properties and ordered the American diplomatic staff cut by more than half two weeks ago, retaliating for sanctions imposed by Congress because of Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election in the United States.

“I want to thank him, because we’re trying to cut down on 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,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

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

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