Donald Trump on Putin killing journalists: “at least he’s a leader”

Donald Trump was interviewed by Joe Scarborough this morning in the wake of having received heaping praise from a rather unexpected source: Vladmir Putin. Putin called Trump the “absolute leader” of the presidential race, calling him a “very bright and talented person.”

Asked about Putin’s borderline endorsement, Trump seemed overjoyed to be praised by the person whose name has come up time and time again in Republican primary debates as the man who must be “stood up to” in the next four years. As he told cohost Mike Brzezinski, “Sure, when people call you ‘brilliant’ it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.”

At which point Scarborough interjected, and the following exchange ensued:

Scarborough: “Well, I mean, it’s also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”

Trump: “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader. Unlike what we have in this country.”

Scarborough: “But again: He kills journalists that don’t agree with him.”

Trump: “Well 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, Joe. A lot of killing going on. A lot of stupidity. And that’s the way it is.”

Scarborough: I’m confused…So I mean, you obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?

Trump: Oh sure, absolutely.

To be clear, that’s Donald Trump taking three tries to get the right answer on the question: “Is killing journalists a bad thing?”

Trump then went on to cite how Putin is a “strong leader,” and touted Putin’s approval ratings — “up in the 80s” — as a reason why he was a better leader than Obama.

The thing is, the Republican Party in general has an off fascination with Putin. In GOP circles, he is at once feared and loved. We are told by foreign policy hawks that Putin is playing three-dimensional chess to Obama’s checkers with a combination of stress and admiration. So sure, Putin is an authoritarian monster — a cult of personality with no regard for political opposition or international law — but hey, at least he’s a strong leader!

No Republican candidate will dare touch Trump on this one.

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Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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23 Responses to “Donald Trump on Putin killing journalists: “at least he’s a leader””

  1. ComradeRutherford says:

    Needless to say, I don’t go to Texas.

  2. The_Fixer says:

    I have a deep fear that those kind of people may get into power and try to carry out this demented line of thinking.

    Jeez, sounds like these shirt-tail relatives of your wife’s never let go. I bet holidays are extra-fun around their houses.

  3. ComradeRutherford says:

    “there are the Evangelicals in the party who want to see the End Times. Nothing better than a nuclear-armed country to poke at in an effort to bring about this eschaton fantasy.”

    My wife’s extended family are still angry at President Reagan for NOT using the nuclear arsenal that GOD gave America for it’s intended purpose: Hastening the return of Jesus.

  4. ComradeRutherford says:

    Scarborough: I’m confused…So I mean, you obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?

    tRump: Only because I have to on TV.

  5. lynchie says:

    you my friend are an idiot how can anything trump do be refreshing

  6. FLL says:

    If Trump and his supporters fail to understand the importance of Ukraine’s bid for a free society, they can go to hell.

  7. FLL says:

    Putin has long been a model for the wistfully neofascist wing of the Republican Party, the GOP wing that has always longed for scrapping the Bill of Rights specifically and the Constitution in general in order to establish a dictatorship. Read the Guardian’s article titled “How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power” about Prescott Bush’s coup plot against the U.S. government during the 1930s (link here). Lacking the Nazi government of the 30s, Putin is the modern-day object of Republican admiration. Putin—former adherent of atheist communism and current devout Russian orthodox Christian—is also the hero of anti-gay fundie Christians like Bryan Fischer:

    The fundie Christians hate, hate, hate what has happened in Ukraine: the landslide election of Poroshenko, who successfully pushed for an anti-discrimination law banning sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in the workplace. The anti-discrimination law passed just a month ago, on November 12 of this year, giving Ukraine something that the even the U.S. lacks: nationwide protection against being fired because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Way to go, Ukraine. Shame on Putin and his snarky Internet supporters.

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  9. Baal says:

    Diabolically refreshing? He is almost incredibly ignorant, bigoted and narcissistic. His idea of foreign policy is simply telling the world that he is going to tell other people that” this is just how it’s going to be”. World doesn’t work that way.

    Mainly, he is a fascist. There is nothing refreshing about this. It is horrifying.

    Bush/Cheney represents the absolute low point of administrations in US history. I think it would not pay to sink even lower.

  10. Baal says:

    Start here. She predicted her own assassination.

    Then you can find more here

  11. GregH3000 says:

    Why so shocked? Do you really think Bush/Cheney was any different? They just didn’t say so.

    What I find so diabolically refreshing about Trump is his guilelessness; he just lets it all rip and abhors hiding behind euphemisms and deception which he views as personal weakness.

  12. GregH3000 says:

    Please provide sources as to the alleged political assassinations of journalists. More likely than not, these are disinfo since our corporate media is fixated on making Putin to be the Anti Christ.

    If it’s true, I would say that it’s worth reflecting that Putin feels a need to kill journalists because they are actually doing their job, while over here in the U.S., no political leader of significance really has to worry too much about the “fourth estate” because all our reporters are servile lap dogs. They all remember what happened to Dan Rather, and they behave accordingly.

  13. BeccaM says:

    Is anybody surprised at this point? Trump has already said he’ll gladly order people to be tortured if he feels “they deserve it.”

    Not for information. Not for intelligence. Just for the sake of sadism.

    Compared to that, summary executions of the opposition is just another piece in the unavoidably obvious fascist puzzle.

  14. douglas01 says:

    How much lower into the sewer can Trump go? Apparently the sewer is bottomless.

  15. 2karmanot says:

    Puti is playing the Trumpenfuhrer like a cheap, plastic ukulele.

  16. Max_1 says:

    Hitler killed journalists, too.
    ~ Heil Trumpf!

  17. Max_1 says:

    And after the Walters interview… Trumpf took a nap.

  18. Don Chandler says:

    But right now he is an opposition leader! Yeah, this putin connection is pretty funny. Trump likes to say how much putin hates obama and visa versa. Trump is on thin ice right now.

  19. The_Fixer says:

    I think we both know what his answer to that would be, and his devotees would find no fault with that either. It’s a good thing that they represent about 25-30 percent of the country, and no more than that.

  20. The_Fixer says:

    The Republicans are using Putin for their own purposes. He’s at once a despot, yet someone to be admired for his strength. He’s a boogeyman, but someone to be fawned over.

    Why is he the great evil? Because he can be useful to their ongoing effort to turn the nation into a bunch of paranoid scaredy-cats. Of course, it’s useful to do this to divert attention from their schemes of enriching themselves through the Military Industrial Complex by continuing a state of never-ending warfare.

    Then there are the Evangelicals in the party who want to see the End Times. Nothing better than a nuclear-armed country to poke at in an effort to bring about this eschaton fantasy.

    Why do they admire him? Because he shares their objective – to marginalize Obama. That and they have that outdated idea of machismo that Putin so thoroughly represents.

    These people are cold, calculating and most of all, sick. Trump is their poster boy.

  21. gratuitous says:

    Keep in mind how Trump treated Jorge Ramos of Univision. Of course he likes the idea of locking up or summarily executing journalists. You’d think this would be a topic of conversation amongst the members of the Fourth Estate. But I guess they all figure that if they keep their lips locked Trump’s keister, none of them run the risk of getting on Trump’s little list.

  22. Don Chandler says:

    Should ask Trump if it’s okay to kill the opposition leader.

  23. therling says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that Trump admires the authoritarian leader of a kleptocracy run by crooked billionaires, and where the average life expectancy has dropped to 67 years (just think how much we could save on Social Security and Medicare).

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