Donald Trump on Putin’s Murder of Dissenting Journalists: “At Least He’s a Leader”

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You know how sometimes, if someone compliments you, you then feel compelled to defend them from criticism, because any attacks on their character might make that compliment invalid or reflect badly on you by association? That happened to me all the time in high school, and I’m not proud of it. But at least I wasn’t running for President of the United States.

During an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier today, Donald Trump discussed a compliment Vladimir Putin gave him earlier this week, when the Russian President called Trump ”brilliant” and ”the absolute leader in the presidential race.” Trump told Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.”

Scarborough then pointed out that Putin might not be the ideal guy to endorse a presidential candidate: “Well, also he’s a person that kills journalists and political opponents and invades countries. That would be a concern, would it not?”

Nope, apparently not a concern for Trump at all! The GOP candidate then defended Putin’s murder of dissenting journalists by arguing, “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”

Scarborough pressed Trump again, reiterating that “he [Putin] kills journalists that don’t agree with him.” Instead of taking Scarborough’s repeated questions as an opportunity to clarify that, whoops, no, he doesn’t think journalists should be murdered for doing their jobs, sorry for the confusion, Donald “Make America Great Again Via Actual Fascism” Trump just said that killing happens all the time. And if killing happens all the time, then it must not be a very big deal!

Hell, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe. So. You know. there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on and a lot of stupidity. That’s the way it is.

When asked a third time if he condemns Putin’s killing of journalists and political opponents, Trump finally agreed with Scarborough, but added “I’ve always felt fine about Putin. I think he is a strong leader, he’s a powerful leader, he’s represented his country the way — the country is being represented.”

Pro-tip for people running for president: you shouldn’t need to be prompted three times before you agree that killing journalists might not be particularly American. And when you do finally agree that murdering people who disagree with you is bad, you shouldn’t see the need to add a qualifier.

(via Mediaite and Uproxx, image via Shutterstock)

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