Donald Trump doesn't seem very bothered by the killing of journalists under Russian president Vladmir Putin, because, Trump said this morning, that demonstrates that Putin "is a leader."
Putin gave a kind of quasi-endorsement to Trump earlier this week, calling the GOP presidential frontrunner the "absolute leader" in the race and calling him "bright and talented" and a "very lively man, talented without doubt." Putin seemed to welcome Trump's rise and expressed interest in working with him in the future.
Asked about those comments on MSNBC's Morning Joe earlier today, Trump responded positively, saying how nice it was to called brilliant, especially by a Russian president.
When co-host Joe Scarborough shot back that Putin was obvious "someone who kills journalists, political allies — and invades countries," Trump doesn't dispute it. Instead, he excuses Putin, telling Scarborough that, "He's running this country, and at least he [Putin] is a leader." Asked again about the deaths of journalists who don't agree with him, Trump shrugs it off, saying, "Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so, you know..."
I think it's fair to say that this is not very reassuring about Trump's instincts or approach to political power. Trump is not just unconcerned about the idea of an authoritarian politician murdering his critics, he seems to positively admire it. Murdering journalists? That's what leadership is!
It is often unclear or unstated what exactly Trump and his supporters mean when they argue that America needs real leadership in the White House. Now we know.
Watch the full clip here.