Donald Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that if Russian President Vladimir Putin had killed journalists, that would be “terrible.” But Trump added he hasn’t seen any proof of that.
“In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know that he has. Have you been able to prove that? Do you know the names of the reporters that he’s killed? Because I’ve been – you know, you’ve been hearing this, but I haven’t seen the names,” Trump said on ABC.
The Russian president, who some of Trump’s GOP rivals have called a “thug” and a threat, recently praised Trump as “bright and talented.”
When confronted with Mitt Romney’s tweet also alleging that Putin kills journalists and political opponents, Trump again dismissed the claims. “He’s always denied it,” Trump said of Putin. “He’s never – 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.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked about a presumed moral equivalency innate in Trump’s answer, to which Trump fired back: “I’m saying, when you say a man has killed reporters, I’d like you to prove it.” Trump did add that if this had happened, it was “despicable.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists, however, does provide names of journalists killed in Russia, and notes that, since 1992, 56 journalists of various nationalities have been killed in the country.
An ex-KGB agent and former head of Russia’s federal security service, Putin first took over the role of prime minister in 1999 and has held that title and president at various times over the past 16 years.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Trump praised Putin’s strength.
“What am I gonna say, he’s a weak leader?” asked Trump. “He’s making minced meat out of our president. He is a strong leader … He can’t stand President Obama. I think it would be a positive thing if Russia and the United States actually got along and they could work to the mutual good of getting rid of ISIS.”
Is it possible Putin had nothing to do with any of those 56 murders of journalists?
Of course there is. Just like it’s entirely possible that the Reichstag fire was set by a demented communist and not the SA.
It’s also a given that Putin has had several prominent critics assassinated, including most recently, Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov — who was gunned down just a few blocks from the Kremlin earlier this year.
Other assassinations in which Putin is suspected of either having foreknowledge or personally ordering include:
* Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB agent who defected to the west. The story he had to tell was bloodcurdling — that two apartment buildings in Moscow were blown up, killing more than 200 people, on the orders of Putin, who wished to start a war with Chechnya. Litvinenko had his tea spiked with radioactive polonium, apparently during a meeting with two former FSB agents.
* Natalya Estemirova, a prominent Chechen human rights activist, was kidnapped in front of her home in 2009. Her bullet-riddled body was found in a neighboring province the next day.
* Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov. Baburova was a Russian human rights lawyer while Markelov was a journalist. They were gunned down together in a hail of bullets in 2009. Two teenage neo-Nazis were eventually arrested and convicted of the crimes.
* Sergei Yushenkov, co-chairman of the Liberal Russia political party and prominent Putin critic, is gunned down at the entrance of his Moscow apartment block in April, 2003.
Someone should teach Donald about Google search. Then he wouldn’t make idiotic statements like there’s no “proof” that Putin offs journalists and murders those who oppose him.