Trump defends Putin: 'You think our country is so innocent'?

In an interview with Fox News Bill O'Reilly scheduled to air Super Bowl Sunday, President Trump defended Russian President Vladimir Putin after O'Reilly referred to him as a "killer."

CNN:

President Donald Trump appeared to equate US actions with the authoritarian regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview released Saturday, saying, "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?"

Trump made the remark during an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, saying he respected his Russian counterpart.

"But he's a killer," O'Reilly said to Trump.

"There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" Trump replied.

A clip of the exchange was released Saturday and the full interview is scheduled to air Sunday.

It was an unusual assertion coming from the President of the United States. Trump himself, however, has made similar points before.

"He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country," Trump told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in December 2015.

He continued, "I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so you know. There's a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, a lot of killing, a lot of stupidity," Trump said.

US Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, called Trump's claim false.

"This is the second time Trump has defended Putin against the charge that he's a killer by saying in effect that the US is no better or different," Schiff told CNN. "This is as inexplicably bizarre as it is untrue. Does he not see the damage he does with comments like that, and the gift he gives to Russian propaganda?"

In the interview with O'Reilly, Trump noted that just because he respects someone "doesn't mean I'm going to get along with them."

"He's a leader of his country and I say it's better to get along with Russia than not, and if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world, a major fight -- that's a good thing. Will I get along with them? I have no idea," Trump said.

Trump and Putin spoke on the phone last Saturday, and the two discussed cooperation in the fight against ISIS, among other areas.

There have been several high profile poisonings of Putin opponents over the years, as well as shootings, mysterious heart attacks, and car accidents. It is probable that not all of these deaths were ordered by Putin or even assassinations. But the bottom line is as plain as day; it is not good for your health to oppose Vladimir Putin.

Trump is playing the real politik game - accepting Putin for the thug that he is while looking for US-Russia cooperation in fighting Islamic extremism world wide. It makes sense that, in that context, he would refuse to overtly criticize the Russian dictator. But he doesn't have to diss the US by bizarrely equating the US with the Putin regime. American presidents don't poison prominent political opponents and it's outrageous to even suggest it.

Putin has his own agenda and will be looking for Trump to grant him carte blanche in Ukraine and perhaps even Eastern Europe. He will almost certainly test Trump's limits as to his tolerance for Putin's mischief making. A US-Russia alliance to fight ISIS and other radical Islamic extremists would be helpful, but at what price? It will be a delicate balancing act that will test the president's worldview and commitment to American values in foreign policy.

In an interview with Fox News Bill O'Reilly scheduled to air Super Bowl Sunday, President Trump defended Russian President Vladimir Putin after O'Reilly referred to him as a "killer."

CNN:

President Donald Trump appeared to equate US actions with the authoritarian regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview released Saturday, saying, "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?"

Trump made the remark during an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, saying he respected his Russian counterpart.

"But he's a killer," O'Reilly said to Trump.

"There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" Trump replied.

A clip of the exchange was released Saturday and the full interview is scheduled to air Sunday.

It was an unusual assertion coming from the President of the United States. Trump himself, however, has made similar points before.

"He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country," Trump told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in December 2015.

He continued, "I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so you know. There's a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, a lot of killing, a lot of stupidity," Trump said.

US Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, called Trump's claim false.

"This is the second time Trump has defended Putin against the charge that he's a killer by saying in effect that the US is no better or different," Schiff told CNN. "This is as inexplicably bizarre as it is untrue. Does he not see the damage he does with comments like that, and the gift he gives to Russian propaganda?"

In the interview with O'Reilly, Trump noted that just because he respects someone "doesn't mean I'm going to get along with them."

"He's a leader of his country and I say it's better to get along with Russia than not, and if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world, a major fight -- that's a good thing. Will I get along with them? I have no idea," Trump said.

Trump and Putin spoke on the phone last Saturday, and the two discussed cooperation in the fight against ISIS, among other areas.

There have been several high profile poisonings of Putin opponents over the years, as well as shootings, mysterious heart attacks, and car accidents. It is probable that not all of these deaths were ordered by Putin or even assassinations. But the bottom line is as plain as day; it is not good for your health to oppose Vladimir Putin.

Trump is playing the real politik game - accepting Putin for the thug that he is while looking for US-Russia cooperation in fighting Islamic extremism world wide. It makes sense that, in that context, he would refuse to overtly criticize the Russian dictator. But he doesn't have to diss the US by bizarrely equating the US with the Putin regime. American presidents don't poison prominent political opponents and it's outrageous to even suggest it.

Putin has his own agenda and will be looking for Trump to grant him carte blanche in Ukraine and perhaps even Eastern Europe. He will almost certainly test Trump's limits as to his tolerance for Putin's mischief making. A US-Russia alliance to fight ISIS and other radical Islamic extremists would be helpful, but at what price? It will be a delicate balancing act that will test the president's worldview and commitment to American values in foreign policy.

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