President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday "had a very good discussion" over the phone, in which they both agreed "there was no collusion" between Moscow and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced.
Sanders said the two world leaders chatted on the phone for more than an hour and briefly discussed the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's report into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election, specifically "in the context of that it's over, and there was no collusion." Sanders added that she was "pretty sure both leaders were very well aware of (Mueller's conclusions) long before this call took place," because it was "something we've said for the better part of two and a half years."
Sanders also emphasized that the Trump administration was dedicated to improving U.S. election security and slammed former President Barack Obama's administration for allegedly not taking action in 2016. "This administration, unlike the previous one, takes election meddling seriously," she claimed.
Trump later confirmed the call in a Friday tweet, in which he called accusations of collusion between his presidential campaign and Moscow the "Russian Hoax."
"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," he tweeted. "We discussed Trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Nuclear Arms Control and even the 'Russian Hoax.' Very productive talk!"
Since a summary of Mueller's conclusions were released by Attorney General William Barr in March, Trump has taken a victory lap and claimed the special counsel's report to be a "total and complete exoneration."
Mueller's report, which details his nearly two-year investigation into Russia's attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election in favor of Trump, noted the Trump campaign "expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts." However, Mueller indicated in the report that he had not found evidence of criminal collusion or conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Russia.
Throughout his investigation, Mueller charged 34 people — including 12 Russian intelligence officers, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies — for hacking and spreading a disinformation campaign to target Americans on social media.
Trump came under intense scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats last year after he asserted that he believed Putin's claim that Russia had not meddled in the 2016 election during a summit in Helsinki, Finald, even though the U.S. intelligence community concluded that the country interfered in the election. The president later attempted to walk back his remarks, in part, by claiming that "other people" could have also meddled in the election.