The stunned editor of the Wall Street Journal put it aptly: “Never in history has a president slandered his country like this.”
In a casual conversation with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in front of a fireplace in the White House, Trump managed to both defend Vladimir Putin for murdering political dissidents and slam the United States for being equally bad. It was an unbelievable sight to behold and no doubt greeted with cheers in the Kremlin.
O’Reilly asked Trump what he felt about Putin, the the Russian leader intelligence officers say helped get him elected, and the president was duly respectful.
O’Reilly: Do you respect Putin?
President Trump: I do respect him but…
O’Reilly: Do you? Why?
Trump: Well, I respect a lot of 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. 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.
O’Reilly: But he’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.
Trump: There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think, that our country is so innocent?
O’Reilly: “Putin’s a killer.”
Trump: “…we’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think—our country’s so innocent?” pic.twitter.com/OVR4XBJq1b
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 4, 2017
To be clear, O’Reilly is likely referring to the propensity for Putin’s political and media critics to end up dead or in jail. A 2016 report by Human Rights Watch documents assassinations, unsolved murders, suspicious deaths of political opponents and an increasing amount of laws that threaten to lock journalists up for reporting on things contrary to Putin’s aspirations. Just this week, a guy linked to the damning “blackmail” file given to U.S. intelligence linking Trump to Russia was found dead in his own car trunk.
Along with Putin’s political intimidation and occasional murders, the autocrat has passed laws encouraging violence against the LGBT community, bombed Syrians, invaded Ukraine, and almost positively provided the material and manpower used to shoot down a Malaysian passenger plane with 283 people aboard.
America, certainly no saint when it comes to militaristic belligerence, has a lot to answer for, but it is not that. Saying they are the same means one of two terrifying options: Trump believes that America is just as bad as Russia or Trump doesn’t mind us becoming just as bad as Russia.
Featured image via Twitter