FLASHBACK--Obama Called Putin 'to Congratulate Him on His Recent Victory'

By Susan Jones | March 21, 2018 | 7:50am EDT
President Obama and then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev whisper about giving Obama "more flexibility" in his dealings with Russia and Putin in March 2012. (Photo: Screen grab)

(CNSNews.com) - From the office of President Barack Obama's press secretary on March 9, 2012: "President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election."

That announcement from the Obama White House produced none of the outrage and fury that greeted President Trump's similar announcement on Tuesday:

"I had a call with President Putin, and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory," President Trump told reporters at a White House photo-op. "We had a very good call, and I suspect that we'll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control," Trump said.

Here's the summary published by the Obama White House of President Obama's 2012 post-election call to Putin:

President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election. 

President Obama highlighted achievements in U.S.-Russia relations over the past three years with President Medvedev, including cooperation on Afghanistan, the conclusion and ratification of the START agreement, Russia’s recent invitation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and cooperation on Iran.  

President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed that the successful reset in relations should be built upon during the coming years.  The President said that he looked forward to hosting President-Elect Putin at the G-8 Summit in May at Camp David.  

The two leaders outlined areas for future cooperation, including strengthening trade and investment relations arising out of Russia’s pending accession to the WTO. President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue discussions on areas where the United States and Russia have differed, including Syria and missile defense. President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue their efforts to find common ground and remove obstacles to better relations.

Seventeen days later, President Obama was overheard on a live microphone at a conference in Seoul telling Dmitri Medvedev that he would have "more flexibility" in his dealings with Russia after Obama's anticipated re-election in November.

Obama asked Medvedev, then the Russian president, to relay a message to Putin:

"This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility," Obama was overheard whispering to Medvedev. "On all these issues, but particularly missile defense...this can be solved, but it's important for him to give me space."

That exchange did spur consternation, particularly from Obama's Republican opponent Mitt Romney, who called it "alarming and troubling."

Bottom line: Obama's dealings with Putin were above-board and forward-looking, even when they were whispered; but Trump's dealings, so far more limited than Obama's, are suspect and damaging to national security.

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