President Donald Trump Defends Vladimir Putin: 'Do You Think Our Country Is So Innocent?'
In a pre-taped interview that aired Sunday before the Super Bowl, the 70-year-old commander-in-chief defended Putin, but said he wasn’t sure if the two of them would necessarily get along..
“I do respect him. I respect a lot of people,” Trump said in a preview released Saturday. “That doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him.”
The president continued, “He’s a leader of his country. 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 – that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.”
The host of The O’Reilly Factor responded, “He’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”
“There are a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers,” said Trump. “What, you think our country is so innocent?”
“I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers,” O’Reilly responded.
“Well, take a look at what we’ve done too,” Trump said. “We’ve made a lot mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.”
“Mistakes are different than —,” O’Reilly started.
“A lot of mistakes. Okay. But a lot of people were killed. So a lot of killers around, believe me,” Trump said.
After the sneak peek of the interview was released on Saturday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Meet the Press that she thinks the FBI should look into Trump’s connections with the Russians to see if they are blackmailing him.
“I want to know what the Russians have on Donald Trump,” Pelosi said on Sunday. “I think we have to have an investigation by the FBI into his financial, personal and political connections to Russia, and we want to see his tax returns, so we can have truth in the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump.”
Pelosi joined a chorus of politicians — including many Republicans — who slammed Trump’s remarks about Putin and his characterization of U.S.
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Trump has previously come under fire for his vocal support of the Russian president during his campaign and since his election. He’s also voiced similar sentiments during an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in December 2015.
“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said. “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.”
After the election, the U.S. intelligence community said in a declassified version of a highly classified assessment that Putin had ordered an influence campaign in the 2016 U.S. election to keep Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton from getting elected. The assessment also stated that Putin developed “a clear preference” for Trump as the election went on. Trump dismissed the intelligence community’s findings, saying that it wasn’t clear who had actually carried out cyber attacks during the election and that it had no effect on the outcome of the election.
More portions of O’Reilly’s interview with Trump will air on The O’Reilly Factor on Monday and Tuesday.