Trump’s decision to meet with Putin ‘drew literal groans’ from his staff: report
"He (Putin) said he didn't meddle. I asked him again," US President Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he flew to Hanoi for a state visit (Vietnam News Agency/AFP / STR)

President Donald Trump is still facing a great deal of scrutiny over whether his presidential campaign colluded with Russian government officials last year -- but that didn't stop the president from insisting on having a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

Politico reports that Trump's decision to have a phone call with Putin recently "drew literal groans from some administration Russia hands" because it came just after the Russian president had been photographed embracing Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad.

In addition to this, Trump's talk with Putin included "no mention of any criticism toward Putin’s backing of the Syrian regime or his recent decision to veto a U.N. investigation of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons."

Trump also drew criticism during his recent trip to Asia for saying that he believed Putin when he said he didn't know about any role his government had played in interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The White House later had to clarify that Trump still accepted his own intelligence agencies' findings that Russia had interfered on his behalf during the election.