OAI's Liddell Promoted at White House

Vladimir Putin's landslide victory

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Trump required his staff to sign the agreements, which extend past his presidency.

According to various news reports, Trump had been expressly urged by national security council aides, who typically brief the president before such calls, to not congratulate Putin, writing on the briefing material in capital letters - "DO NOT CONGRATULATE".

"If this story is accurate, that means someone leaked the President's briefing papers", the official told the Haberman and Miller.

But the controversy was compounded as it emerged the president's prepared notes for the call had specifically warned him "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" - with a hunt now underway for the person who leaked the document.

There was no such sentiment from Mr Trump himself, with the president instead suggesting his warm relationship with Mr Putin could reset relations.

- By Associated Press writer Zeke Miller.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the hunt for the leaker was underway.

Washington Post editor Ruth Marcus summed up the situation thusly: "This is so ridiculously excessive, so laughably unconstitutional, that I doubted when it first came my way that anything like it was ever implemented, only to do some reporting and learn otherwise". And while White House staffers have various confidentiality obligations - maintaining the secrecy of classified information or attorney-client privilege, for instance - the notion of imposing a side agreement, supposedly enforceable even after the president leaves office, is not only oppressive but constitutionally repugnant.

At the State Department, spokesperson Heather Nauert said it was "no surprise" that Putin was re-elected, commenting that some people were paid to turn out to vote and opposition leaders were intimidated or jailed.

He then went a step further to congratulate the Russian leader on winning a fourth presidential term, despite the election being plagued by evidence of ballot stuffing, media censorship and the jailing of political opponents.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a frequent Trump critic, called the president's call "odd".

Trump also mentioned that he congratulated Putin on his recent win, which has drawn some domestic criticism, including for Trump's failure to raise Moscow's alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain in the phone call.

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