Trump praises Putin for expelling US diplomats, gets panned... by diplomat
“I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” the president joked on Thursday.
“There’s no real reason for them to go back,” Trump continued. “I greatly appreciate the fact that they’ve been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We’ll save a lot of money.”
The joke has not gone down well in some quarters, though, with former diplomats in particular failing to see the funny side and strongly condemning the remarks.
Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul took distinct umbrage at the gag, unleashing a scathing barrage of tweets.
“But if Trump admires Putin, why doesn’t he act like him? Putin didn’t roll over when we kicked out 35 of his, but Trump did in response to 755," McFaul, who served on President Obama's National Security Council, said.
Former NATO Ambassador Nicholas Burns labelled Trump remarks “disrespectful” while former Middle Eastern analyst for the US government Aaron Miller said they were “shameful”.
The outrage wasn’t just confined to diplomats – chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov and actor John Cusack were also among those who felt moved to express their indignation.
Meanwhile, others just couldn’t help but see the funny side of the whole furore.