President Donald Trump Thursday said he wanted to thank Russian President Vladimir Putin for reducing his payroll by firing U.S. embassy staff in Moscow.
Putin ordered the cut of 755 personnel at the end of July, in direct response to new sanctions on Russia passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate. The sanctions, which Trump signed three days after the cut, were designed in part as a response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump was asked about the firing during a press conference in Bedminster, N.J., where he is taking a 17 day "working vacation." His only response was that he wanted to thank Putin for the cut.
"No. I want to thank him, because we're trying to cut down on payroll," Trump said. "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."
"There's no real reason for them to go back," Trump added. "So I greatly appreciate the fact that they have been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We'll save a lot of money."