President Trump tells Fox News that he does indeed respect Vladimir Putin, even though he agreed with Bill O'Reilly's assessment that the Russian leader is a "killer." Said Trump: "There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?" As he has in the past, Trump argued that it makes sense to get along with Moscow to help the fight against ISIS. And as for Putin, "Will I get along with him? I have no idea." Fox released an excerpt as part of a pre-Super Bowl interview that will air at 4pm Eastern.
The "innocent" line has triggered a quick backlash, with USA Today picking up on this tweet from Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens: "Trump puts US on moral par with Putin's Russia. Never in history has a President slandered his country like this." The Guardian notes that Trump has expressed the sentiment before: When MSNBC's Joe Scarborough told Trump that Putin kills journalists, he replied: “Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.” (Read more President Obama stories.)