The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump Defends Praising Putin, China’s ‘Strong’ Response to Tiananmen Square

CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Donald Trump tonight over his reputation for “praising authoritarian dictators,” such as Vladimir Putin. Tapper quoted an interview Trump gave to Playboy: ”You said ‘When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it, they were vicious, they were brutal, and then they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.’” 

“That doesn’t mean I was endorsing it,” Trump replied. ”I said that was a strong, powerful government that put it down with strength. And they kept down the riot. It was a horrible thing, it doesn’t mean at all I was endorsing.”

“As far as Putin is concerned, I think Putin has been a strong leader for Russia,” he continued. ”He’s been a lot stronger than our leader and that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing Putin.” 

“The word strong, obviously, is a compliment,” Tapper replied. ”Many people would look at what the Chinese leaders have done and what Putin is doing as atrocities.” 

“I used to think Merkel was a good leader until she did what she did to Germany,” Trump responded. ”Germany is a disaster right now. … Strong doesn’t mean good. Putin is a strong leader, absolutely. I can name many strong leaders, I could name many weak leaders. I don’t say that as a good way or a bad way, I say it as a fact.”

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