President Donald Trump confirmed the White House statement saying that the commander-in-chief was not being serious when he thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for ordering a drastic reduction in the number of U.S. diplomatic employees and saving the U.S. significant cash.
Trump's responded to a reporter asking whether his comments were actually sarcastic by saying "In order to reduce our pay roll, absolutely, I think you know that."
"We have reduced pay roll substantially," Trump continued. It was unclear whether he was joking.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday that Trump "was being sarcastic" when he made the remark a day earlier. Trump had said he "greatly" appreciated Putin's help cutting down the State Department's payroll.
Putin said last month the U.S. would have to cut 755 of its diplomatic staff in Russia — a response to new sanctions that seek to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.