News and Commentary

Trump Defends Putin: ‘You Think Our Country’s So Innocent?’

Sunday, just prior to the Super Bowl, a pre-taped interview with President Trump will air on FOX. It’s become a recent tradition for Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly to sit down with the president for a pre-game chat.

A clip from the upcoming segment was released Saturday in which President Trump says something disturbing:

O’REILLY: “Do you respect Putin?”

TRUMP: “I do respect him–“

O’REILLY: “Do you? Why?”

TRUMP: “Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna get along with them. 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–major fight–that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea. It’s very possible that I won’t.”

O’REILLY: “He’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”

TRUMP: “A lot of killers. Got a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

This is the age of Trump, and as such, nothing can be taken at face value. There are facets of this exchange that must be thoughtfully examined.

Bill O’Reilly is correct. Vladimir Putin, formerly of the KGB, is the leader of a nation in which journalists are murdered at an alarming rate. Politifact reports that since Putin’s election in 2000, at least 34 journalists have been murdered under suspicious circumstances:

Of the 34 killings in Russia, many of the suspected perpetrators are military officials, government officials or political groups. The vast majority of cases remain unsolved.

Not unlike Mafia dons, Putin doesn’t need to do anything directly, but rather acts as an influencer:

The assassinations of Kremlin critics may even be desirable and don’t need to be signed off by Putin personally, suggested Harley Balzer, a government and international affairs professor at Georgetown University who specializes in Russian and East European studies.

…in cases where dissident media outlets are stifled, Putin isn’t necessarily or even probably the person who issues the command. Ognianova of the Committee to Protect Journalists acknowledged that there’s no evidence linking Putin to the murders, but said he’s “surely lowered the cost.”

President Trump’s refusal to condemn Putin outright is troubling.

To ignore Vladimir Putin’s evils is to ignore the murder of journalists, the nationwide crackdown on individual freedoms, and Russia’s expansionism. Russia is not a free nation, and it’s Vladimir Putin who keeps it that way.

As The Daily Wire previously reported, Putin even made it illegal to protest the government without first receiving approval from the government:

In 2014, Vladimir Putin made “unsanctioned” protests against the government punishable by a massive fine, time in a labor camp, or a prison sentence of up to five years. Ildar Dadin dared to peacefully protest his government, and was thrown in prison, and allegedly tortured for it.

For more information about Ildar Dadin’s incredible and chilling story, click here.

Playing devil’s advocate, the United States isn’t “so innocent,” as the president suggested. The U.S. government has indeed participated in unsavory actions, including the drone killings of American citizens without due process, like that of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.

Here’s the difference–the United States is a free nation with a Constitution specifically designed to protect the people and the press from federal powers. The United States, while not perfect, is the epitome of freedom. Any American can protest the government, or the president, without fear of reprisal; journalists can break stories critical of the president, and remain among the living.

For Donald Trump to say what he did to Bill O’Reilly was impetuous. To dismiss Putin’s evils is to spit in the face of those who have rebelled against Russia and have been imprisoned or murdered because of it. Additionally, such a comment further demonstrates the fact that in running for the presidency, Donald Trump leapt into the water without first learning to swim.