Politics

Brushing off Putin, Trump says fewer diplomats saves money

BEDMINISTER, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump is brushing off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to expel hundreds of U.S. diplomatic employees from Russia.

In remarks to reporters, Trump dismissed Putin’s move, saying it would ‘‘cut down our payroll’’ at the State Department’’ and ‘‘save a lot of money.’’

It’s unclear whether the president is joking.

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Putin said last month the U.S. would have to cut 755 of its embassy and consular staff in Russia because of new U.S. sanctions.

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Moscow’s move was a long-expected response to President Barack Obama’s move to expel 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S.

Obama took action following allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.