Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump made the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows, defending Vladimir Putin against allegations that the Russian President has ordered the murder of journalists and political adversaries. Trump also defended himself against his fellow rivals for the Republican nomination who are criticizing his embrace of Putin’s warm words of praise.
Last Thursday, CNN reported Putin praised Trump, stating the presidential hopeful is “bright and talented” and “the absolute leader of the presidential race.” Trump called Putin’s compliments a “great honor” and said Putin is “a man highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
According to the Guardian, Trump has also vowed that if he’s elected president, he will work closely with Russia, a vow with which his rivals, and most Republicans in general, don’t agree.
Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, sardonically called Putin and Trump “a match made in heaven.”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio slammed Trump on CBS’ Face the Nation for defending Putin and cited several examples as to why he believes Trump shouldn’t get too cozy with the Russian President.
“[He] jailed and murdered journalists, political opponents. He bombed an apartment building as a pretext to attack the Chechens. He is responsible for the downing of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, because he provided the antiaircraft weaponry that was used for that.”
During an interview with MSNBC on Friday, Trump was asked about Putin’s alleged involvement in the murder of journalists to which Trump replied, “Our country does plenty of killing also.”
The reply stirred up controversy. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, took to Twitter to tweet that there’s a difference between what the U.S. does and what Putin is accused of doing.
Important distinction: thug Putin kills journalists and opponents; our presidents kill terrorists and enemy combatants.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 18, 2015
In a WABC interview, Trump attempted to clarify his remark.
“We’re not killing journalists. But we’re certainly at a lot of different wars with a lot of different people, and maybe with good diplomacy and, you know, better leadership, things could work out a lot better than they’re working out right now, you never know.”
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked Trump to further explain Friday’s response in an interview that aired Sunday. Trump’s basic stance is that he hasn’t seen any proof, so he doesn’t believe the accusations that have been made against Putin.
“It would be a terrible thing if it were true, but I have never seen any information or any proof that he killed reporters. You’re just saying, he killed reporters. You and other people tell me he killed reporters. I don’t know that he killed reporters. I haven’t seen it. If he did, I think it’s despicable. I think it would be horrible. But you’re making these accusations and I don’t–I don’t see any proof.”
Trump also added that Putin “totally denies that he kills reporters.”
When asked why he feels Putin’s praise is “a great honor,” Trump told ABC News he believes the U.S. could find a way to improve relations with Russia.
“If Putin respects me and if Putin wants to call me brilliant and other things that he said which were, frankly, very nice, I’ll accept that and I’ll accept that on behalf of our country. Because if we get along well with Russia, that’s a positive thing.”
U.S. relations with Russia have been strained over the past several years, and Trump made sure to blame President Obama for the strain.
“Obama doesn’t get along with Putin. Putin can’t stand our president and it’s causing us difficulty,” Trump told ABC’s This Week. He believes getting along with Russia would ease the U.S. of those difficulties.
The Inquisitr recently explored the idea of Putin and Trump becoming bosom buddies if Trump ends up becoming the next U.S. President. Both men are seen as ruthless and unbending in their ideologies as well as astute businessmen. Perhaps it isn’t so surprising that Trump is defending Putin against allegations of murdering journalists after all.
[Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images]