In an interview to be aired ahead of the Super Bowl later on Sunday, Bill O’Reilly asked if Trump respects Russian President Vladimir Putin, to which the he replied, “I do respect him. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get along with them.”
Seemingly surprised, O’Reilly goes on to ask him why.
“He is the 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 the Islamic terrorism all over the world, that’s a good thing,” Trump answered.
“Will I get along with him? I have no idea.”
O’Reilly then challenged Trump, calling the Russian president “a killer.”
Trump shrugged the comment off, saying: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?”
It is not the first time that Trump has made such comments when journalists question his stance regarding the Russian leader.
At the end of 2015, the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe told Trump that Putin “kills journalists,” to which the unfazed then-presidential candidate replied, “I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.”
“I’ve always felt fine about Putin. He’s a strong leader. He’s a powerful leader,” Trump added.
At the end of January, Putin and Trump held their first official phone call, which, according to the Kremlin, was “good and constructive.”
“Over the past years, the lack of mutual respect became the main reason for the deterioration of relations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added.
Another important thing is that Washington is prepared for dialogue, the spokesman concluded.
“This is what President Putin called for rather consistently but where unfortunately he did not see reciprocity over the past years,” Peskov said.
Earlier in January, however, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized that the first meeting between Putin and Trump may“happen in months to come,” not “in a matter of weeks.”
Peskov also said, “it is maybe the biggest mistake on the part of Western analysts to think that Trump is ‘our man.’ He is an American man.”
Former Deputy Speaker of the Belgian Parliament Lode Vanoost told RT that it is way too early to be overly optimistic about Trump.
“To me, he remains as unpredictable and unreliable as he was before. We didn’t see the full interview yet, and the follow-up questions that came after this very astonishing remark. Basically, what Trump is doing is he is applying the same moral principles to the US as he applies to other countries. That is indeed without precedent in US political culture.”
Also, he expressed concern over forces that could interfere with Trump’s mending ties with Russia.
“If he remains on the path of improving relations with Russia, it could be quite dangerous: my fear is that all conservative governments in the EU, NATO, will create provocations to force him back into line.”