Donald Trump lavished more praise on Vladimir Putin in Wednesday’s NBC News’ Commander-In-Chief forum, even after moderator Matt Lauer brought up the numerous ways Russia as sought to undermine U.S. interests.
“Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters, who by the way, some of them are based here,” Trump said.
Trump went on to say he welcomed the compliments Putin has paid him.
“If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him,” Trump said. “The man has very strong control over a country. Now it’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he’s been a leader. Far more than our president has been a leader.”
Trump was asked how he would deescalate the tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
“I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin, and I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia,” Trump said, while criticizing Obama’s handling of Putin.
“And I just saw two or three days ago, they looked like they were not exactly getting along. But I looked at President Obama and Putin staring at each other, these were not two people that were getting along,” Trump said. “And you know the beautiful part of getting along, Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do. If we had a relationship with Russia, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?”
When Lauer brought up the ways Russia has acted out on the world stage, including its alleged hack of the DNC emails, Trump demurred.
“Well, nobody knows that for a fact. But do you want me to start naming some of the things that President Obama does at the same time?” Trump said.
Even as he said he would “take” Putin’s “compliment,” Trump insisted: “It’s not going to get him anywhere.”
“I’m a negotiator. We’re going to take back our country,” Trump said.