Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Trump panned over Putin remark

TAKING OFFENSE:The Kremlin yesterday issued a statement, demanding an apology from Bill O’Reilly for calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a ‘killer’

AP, WEST PALM BEACH, Florida

US President Donald Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School Band as they play at his arrival at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Sunday.

Photo: AP

US President Donald Trump has long expressed a desire for improved relations with Moscow, but his latest comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the US are leading some fellow Republicans to take a step back from the US president — on this issue at least.

Told by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly during an interview that the Russian leader is “a killer,” Trump said the US has killers, too.

“What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?” Trump said during the taped interview broadcast during Sunday’s Super Bowl pregame show.

Trump has praised Putin and signaled that US-Russia relations could be in for a makeover under his leadership, even after US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia meddled in November last year’s US presidential campaign to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.

During Putin’s years in power, a number of prominent Russian opposition figures and journalists have been killed.

Trump said in the interview that he respects a lot of people, including Putin, “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,” Trump said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. “Will I get along with him? I have no idea.”

O’Reilly then said about Putin: “But he’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”

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

When O’Reilly said he does not know any US government leaders who are killers, Trump said “take a look at what we’ve done, too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes” and then he referenced the Iraq war.

The Kremlin yesterday said it wanted an apology from Fox News over what it said were “unacceptable” comments one of the channel’s presenters made about Putin.

Republicans and Democrats took exception to Trump’s comparison of Russia and the US.

“Putin’s a former KGB agent. He’s a thug. He was not elected in a way that most people would consider a credible election,” US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN’s State of the Union. “The Russians annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine and messed around in our elections. And no, I don’t think there’s any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.”

“There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin’s defense of his cronyism,” added US Senator Ben Sasse, one of Trump’s Republican critics.

O’Reilly also asked Trump to back up his claim that about 3 million to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the election.

Trump did not answer directly, but shifted to assert that immigrants in the US illegally and dead people are on the voter rolls.

“It’s really a bad situation, it’s really bad,” Trump said.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the Nov. 8 election. Trump won the Electoral College vote, but lost the popular vote by about 2.9 million votes to Clinton.

Asked about Trump’s promised investigation in voter fraud, McConnell said he saw no federal role because states historically have handled voter fraud investigations.

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