Russian President Vladimir Putin heaped praise on Donald Trump on Thursday. And on Friday, the Republican presidential front-runner returned the favor.
“Sure, when people call you ‘brilliant’ it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
And he didn’t back down after host Joe Scarborough pointed out that Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries.”
“At least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump responded.
After the hosts repeated that Putin kills journalists and political opponents, Trump said: “Our country does a lot of killing also.”
Putin called Trump a “really brilliant and talented person without any doubts” at a news conference Thursday.
Trump has insisted on the campaign trail that he’d get along with Putin better than President Barack Obama does, and the Russian leader said he welcomed the embrace.
“He says he will want to reach another, deeper, level of relations” with Russia, Putin said, according to Russia’s TASS. “What else can we do but to welcome it? Certainly, we welcome it.”
“It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond,” Trump said in a statement Thursday.