President Donald Trump’s not-so-secret love affair with Russia is going to get him in deep trouble.
While it is understandable why the new commander-in-chief might not want to offend his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in any capacity (hint: the election intervention) or irk any of the other Kremlin officials (hint: the golden shower), his recent defense of Putin still came as an outrageous surprise.
During an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, the business baron appeared to be creating a “moral equivalency” between the U.S. and Russia.
When O’Reilly asked if he respected Putin, Trump replied, “I do respect Putin.”
He then went on to clarify the statement.
“Well, I respect a lot people, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not,” he continued. “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. It’s very possible I don’t.”
However, things took a shocking turn when O’Reilly interrupted and called Putin a “killer.”
“There are a lot of killers,” Trump shot back. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?”
To put things into perspective, 36 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1992. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 23 of them died after Putin became president in 2000.
The reaction on social media was expectedly massive.
When the press said Putin's a killer, it was adorable to see how Trump stood by his man and criticized America instead. That's true love.— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 5, 2017
So President Trump has been more critical of a federal judge who is trying to honor the constitution, than he has been of Putin. Wow.— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) February 5, 2017
If Obama justified ignoring Putin's slaughters by saying "America isnt so innocent" the scandal wuld last weeks. Trump said it. Where's Fox?— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) February 5, 2017
Putin's favorite political tool: murder— Joss Whedon (@joss) February 5, 2017
Trump's favorite political tool: Putin
Folks naive enough to believe Donald Trump is a man we can trust also believe Vladimir Putin is a man we can trust.— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) February 6, 2017
Putin runs a country where dissent results in death. For Trump to equate the US to that level of barbarism is treasonous— Talia (@2020fight) February 5, 2017
Even some Republicans took to Twitter to condemn Trump:
.@POTUS statement suggesting moral equivalence between Putin's Russia and the United States of America is deeply troubling and wrong.— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) February 5, 2017
When has a Democratic political activists been poisoned by the GOP, or vice versa? We are not the same as #Putin. MR— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 5, 2017
Unsurprisingly, Vice President Mike Pence, the man responsible for cleaning up giant puddles of mess left behind by Trump, defended the remarks.
“President Trump has been willing to be critical of our country’s actions in the past,” Pence said. “But what you’re hearing there is a determination by the president of the United States to not let semantics or the arguments of the past get in the way of exploring the ability to work together with Russia and with President Putin in the days ahead.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters