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Trump: I don't know Putin

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/02/2017 David Jackson

President Donald Trump talks with members of the military during a luncheon at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. © James Borchuck/Tampa Bay Times via AP President Donald Trump talks with members of the military during a luncheon at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. President Trump denied any special connection to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, and contrasted his approach to Russia to predecessor Barack Obama's dealings with Iran.

"I don't know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy," Trump tweeted. "Yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem!"

Trump has claimed to have met Putin before.

In a 2014 speech to the National Press Club, Trump said that "I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer."

Members of both parties criticized Trump this week for seeming to equate Putin's autocratic government to that of the United States.

When Fox News interviewer Bill O'Reilly cited the number of Putin critics who have been murdered — "Putin's a killer" — Trump replied: "Lot of killers.  We’ve got a lot of killers.  Boy, you think our country’s so innocent?"

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., responded on CNN: "No, I don't think there is any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.”   

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and other critics have called for an FBI investigation into possible Trump ties to Russia, citing his repeated compliments of :Putin even as he criticizes other world leaders. Russia is one the reasons people want Trump to release his tax returns, though he repeated in his tweet that he has no deals there.

Trump criticized Obama and the Iran nuclear agreement a week after his administration placed more sanctions on Tehran over a missile test and alleged support for terrorism. Those new sanctions had been developed by the Obama administration. The president and aides say he is reviewing the Iran deal in which the United States, the five permanent members of United Nations Security Council, which includes Russia and China, and Germany reduced previous sanctions in exchange for Iran giving up the means to make nuclear weapons.

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