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Trump to Sanction Russia When Necessary04/19 06:16

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump said Wednesday that nobody has 
been tougher on Russia than him and that he'll hit Moscow with new sanctions 
"as soon as they very much deserve it."

   He also said building a good relationship with Russia is a "good, not bad" 
thing.

   Trump commented a day after an internal White House quarrel over the timing 
of potential new punishment for Russia exploded into public view. He blamed the 
news media for spreading a narrative that he said portrays him as being afraid 
to stand up to Russia.

   "There's been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump," the 
president said, citing increased U.S. military spending among his examples. 
"With the media, no matter what I did, it's never tough enough, because that's 
their narrative. But Russia will tell you, there's been nobody tougher than 
Donald Trump.

   Trump mentioned the joint U.S., French and British military operation last 
weekend that struck several sites in Syria to punish the Russian-backed 
government of President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack that 
killed civilians. Trump said the strike was "absolute precision."

   Trump had largely avoided criticizing Russia, leaving the harsh rhetoric and 
sanctions announcements to others in the administration. But he began to 
criticize Russia on Twitter after the apparent chemical attack this month that 
spawned images of Syrian adults gasping for air and being hosed off.

   Still, Trump said he would prefer good relations with Russia and other 
nations.

   "If we can get along with China, and if we can get along with Russia, and if 
we can get along with Japan and other nations that's a good thing, not a bad 
thing. Just remember that," Trump said as he ended a news conference with 
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The leaders had spent the past two days 
discussing such issues as North Korea and trade --- and playing golf.

   "If we got along with other nations, that's good, not bad," Trump said.

   A day earlier, an internal White House quarrel over the timing of new Russia 
sanctions played out in public after Trump's new economic adviser suggested 
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley suffered from "momentary confusion."

   Haley said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that new sanctions directed at 
companies associated with Syria's chemical weapons program would be announced 
Monday --- but they weren't.

   Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters 
Tuesday that Haley "got ahead of the curve," adding, "There might have been 
some momentary confusion about that."

   Haley retorted with a statement to Fox News saying, "With all due respect, I 
don't get confused."

   Kudlow called Haley on Tuesday afternoon to apologize, a White House 
official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe private 
discussions.


(KA)

 
 
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