After a particularly head-scratching comment by President Donald Trump during Thursday's press conference, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is now backtracking those sentiments.

Sanders said, via an email to The New York Times, that Trump was “being sarcastic” when he thanked Russia President Vladimir Putin for cutting U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia.

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll,” Trump said Thursday at his Westminster N.J. golf club. “And as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back.”

“So I greatly appreciate the fact that they’ve been able to cut our payroll for the United States,” the president continued. "We’ll save a lot of money.”

Putin announced last month that upward of 775 U.S. mission staff would be expelled from Russia. This move was in response to new Russian sanctions that were passed overwhelmingly by Congress and were signed into law by Trump.

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