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Donald Trump

Trump defends ‘killer’ Putin: ‘What, you think our country’s so innocent?’

US President Donald Trump has long been effusive in his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 February, 2017, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 February, 2017, 9:58am

US President Donald Trump has brushed off a description of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as a “killer,” saying, “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

In an interview with Fox News to be broadcast on Sunday, interviewer Bill O’Reilly asked Trump if he respected Putin, whom he has praised in the past.

“I do respect him, but I respect a lot of people,” Trump replied in excerpts released on Saturday.

“That doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him.”

He continued, “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.”

“But he (Putin) is a killer though,” O’Reilly interjected.

“There are a lot of killers,” Trump responded, “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

The clip is cut off before he can elaborate further.

In a separate segment, O’Reilly also asked Trump about the claims of voter fraud he has made without providing evidence to back them up, such as suggesting that millions of people voted in the November election illegally.

“Many people have come out and said I’m right,” Trump replied.

When pressed about actual data, Trump dodged the question, saying “When you see illegals, people that are not citizens and they are on the registration rolls … we can be babies but you take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people … it’s a really bad situation.”

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According to the Committee to Project Journalists, 36 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1992 , 23 since Putin first became president in 2000. Most famously Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in 2006 while investigating torture in Chechnya.

The subject has arisen before in connection with Trump’s view of the Russian president. In December 2015, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough told Trump: “He kills journalists that don’t agree with him.”

Trump answered: “Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.”

The same week, Trump told ABC News : “In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know that he has.”

He added: “If he has killed reporters I think that’s terrible. But this isn’t like somebody that’s stood with a gun and he’s taken the blame or he’s admitted that he’s killed. He’s always denied it.

“It’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody, so you know you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty at least in our country he has not been proven that he’s killed reporters.”

Critics of Trump have often raised the subject of Putin’s murderousness. The Arizona senator John McCain, a fierce opponent of lifting sanctions on Russia , a prospect with which Trump has flirted, has said the Russian president is “a murderer and a thug”.

Fox also said Trump answered a question from O’Reilly about his oft-stated but never evidenced belief that his defeat by nearly 3m ballots in the popular vote was caused by massive voter fraud .

“When you see... people who are not citizens and they are [on] the registration rolls... it’s a really bad situation,” Trump was quoted as saying.

Trump said he was willing to work with both Kiev and Moscow to resolve the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, following a telephone call with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on Saturday.

The call was the first direct contact between the two leaders since the inauguration of Trump, whose aim to improve relations with the Kremlin has alarmed Kiev while the nearly three-year-old conflict remains unresolved.

It followed fresh artillery attacks in Ukraine’s Donbass region, which broke a lull in shelling at a frontline hot-spot that had raised hopes the conflict’s worst escalation in months was waning.

“We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border,” Trump said in a White House statement after talking

Tribune News Service, The Guardian