Donald Trump really has a thing for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
If you thought bipartisan criticism of the Republican presidential nominee’s call for Russia to hack his Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton’s email would stop Trump from praising the Russian strongman, think again. In an interview taped Wednesday and aired Thursday by “Fox and Friends,” the billionaire businessman praised Putin again — and this time slammed U.S. President Barack Obama.
When asked about his comments Wednesday regarding Clinton’s email, the businessman-turned-politician said “Putin has much better leadership qualities than Obama.”
“I said he’s a better leader than Obama,” Trump said, repeating himself. “I said he’s a better leader than Obama, because Obama’s not a leader, so he’s certainly doing a better job than Obama is, and that’s all.”
The real estate tycoon made a halfhearted attempted to walk back on his controversial call for the Kremlin to hack Clinton and release thousands of emails she deleted from her private server. He’s now facing widespread criticism for calling on Moscow to conduct cyber-espionage on the former secretary of state.
“Of course, I’m being sarcastic,” Trump said. “But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said in those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take a look at what was said in those emails, it’s disgraceful. It’s disgraceful.”
Trump has also said he would “be looking into” recognizing Crimea as Russian territory, and would consider lifting the sanctions against the country for its actions in Ukraine. Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula, which had been part of Ukraine for decades, in March 2014. On Thursday, the Kremlin announced Putin has consolidated the Crimean Federal District into Russia’s Southern Federal District.