US President Donald Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone on Thursday (14 December) and thanked him for praising the US economy, once again triggered fierce condemnation on Twitter. The White House issued a brief statement that Trump spoke with his Russian counterpart to discuss the "very dangerous" situation in North Korea.
The White House said the two leaders "discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea".
"President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging America's strong economic performance in his annual press conference," the White House statement read.
Trump later told reporters on Friday that his phone call with Putin was "great", noting that the Russian president "said very nice things about what I've done for this country in terms of the economy.
During his annual national press conference, Putin dismissed the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 as "spy hysteria" and asked members of the US Congress, "Are you normal at all?"
"This is all made up by people who oppose Trump to make his work look illegitimate," Putin said. He added that there is a "deep state" in the US that is fuelling hostility towards Russia.
He also praised Trump's "serious achievements" saying: "Look at the markets, how they went up; that speaks about investors' trust in what he does."
Congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller are conducting ongoing probes of Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump's team colluded with Moscow. So far, four people linked to Trump's campaign have been charged in Mueller's probe including former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Still, Trump has repeatedly voiced doubts about the US intelligence agencies' assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. He has also denied collusion with Russia and denounced the ongoing probes as a "hoax".
"Let's put it this way, there is absolutely no collusion, that has been proven," Trump said. "That was a Democrat hoax, it was an excuse for losing the election and it should have never been this way where they spend all these millions of dollars."
Meanwhile, Twitter slammed Trump for making the call to Putin amid the ongoing probes and strained tensions with Russia and thanking him for his praise.
"It's sickening," one Twitter user wrote. Another added: "It seems to confirm that Trump is a narcissistic toddler who is easily impressed by base flattery and has no intention of implementing the sanctions passed by Congress."
"Was this Trump's performance review?" one person questioned.
"So wait, President Trump called Vladimir Putin, for the sole purpose of thanking Putin for praising America's economic performance under Trump?! I am *incredulous* over this, Trump is so embarrassing," a second said.