President Donald Trump told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that he doesn’t think America is “so innocent” when confronted with the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a killer of those who criticize him.
In a preview of the interview, which is slated to air at 4 p.m. Sunday right before the Super Bowl, O’Reilly asks Trump if he respects Putin, and Trump gives a surprising answer:
O’Reilly: “Do you respect Putin?”
Trump: “I do respect him.
O’Reilly: “Do you? Why?”
Trump: “I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with them. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russian than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS…and Islamic terrorism all over the world…major fight. That’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.
O’Reilly: “He’s a killer, though…Putin’s a killer.”
Trump: “We got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?”
Putin is known for placing a value on brutality as a leader, as this Foreign Policy piece from 2016 details in attempting to explain Russia’s sustained and unmerciful bombing of Aleppo to fight the Islamic State. The article compares Putin’s strategic approach in Aleppo with his moves in the Second Chechen War’s battle for Grozny, one of his first wars as leader of Russia. That battle left thousands dead, tens of thousands homeless, and “the city described by the United Nations as the most ruined one on the planet,” writes Foreign Policy.
He has been implicated in the 2004 dioxin poisoning during the campaign of eventual President of Ukraine Victor Yushenko, leaving him disfigured. He was most recently implicated in another poisoning, this time of Vladimir Kara-Murza, an outspoken activist for Democracy in Russia, who was recently placed on life support in Moscow.
Additionally, in a story Putin denies but one that has particular and humorous relevance to the Super Bowl Sunday interview between Trump and O’Reilly, Putin was accused in 2013 of stealing New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s 2004 Super Bowl ring during his visit to Russia in 2005.
Watch the exchange below: