Russian President Vladimir Putin showered praise on Donald Trump on Thursday, calling him “a bright and talented person,” “outstanding,” and “the absolute leader of the presidential race.”
Friday morning on MSNBC, Trump returned the favor.
Joe Scarborough pressed Trump on Putin’s history as “a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries.”
Trump responded by defending Putin. “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader. Unlike what he have in this country.”
Scarborough pressed: “But again: He kills journalists that don’t agree with him.”
Trump again brushed off the critique, telling Scarborough, “our country does plenty of killing also, Joe.”
Before moving on, Scarborough threw Trump a lifeline. “You obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?”
“Oh sure, absolutely,” Trump replied carelessly.
During Putin’s rule, a long list of political opponents — including journalists — have been murdered under suspicious circumstances. The Russian government has denied any involvement.
Trump previously called praise from Putin a “great honor,” describing him as “a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
All of Trump’s political major Republican opponents have pledged to support Trump if he wins the nomination. The latest polls shows he leads by 20 points or more nationally.