Western leaders were wary of congratulating Vladimir Putin after the Russian leader's overwhelming election win—with one notable exception. President Trump said Tuesday that he congratulated Putin on the victory during a "very good" phone call, which the Washington Post reports went directly against the advice of Trump's national security advisers. Sources tell the Post that it would have been hard for Trump to misinterpret the advice: His briefing materials stated "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" in capital letters. The sources say Trump, who told reporters he would "probably" be meeting Putin "in the not-too-distant future," also ignored advice to condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy.
The Post's sources say it's not clear whether Trump—who initiated the phone call—even read his briefing materials before calling the Russian leader. Sen. John McCain was one of the strongest critics of the congratulatory call. "An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections," he said in a statement. By doing so, Trump "insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country's future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin's regime," McCain said. CNN reports that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders rejected McCain's criticism. "We don't get to dictate how other countries operate," she said. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)