At some point, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said, the world must assume that President Donald Trump believes that it's acceptable to assassinate or imprison journalists and political rivals.
The "Morning Joe" host said Trump's repeated refusal to condemn Vladimir Putin's brutal actions toward his critics and rivals must be considered approval.
"If Donald Trump keeps being asked to criticize Vladimir Putin for assassinating journalists, and Donald Trump refuses to criticize Vladimir Putin for assassinating journalists, and say, well, we do it, too, in a sense, does that suggest that he thinks that it's OK to assassinate journalists?" Scarborough said. "Does that suggest that it's OK to jail political opponents, to assassinate political opponents?"
Trump told Scarborough last year that he believed Putin's killing of journalists demonstrated strong leadership, and the president told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly over the weekend that the U.S. was guilty of the same abuses.
Scarborough said those comments were simply "baffling."
"If you don't condemn after being asked repeatedly to condemn these actions, at some point you go back to the 'he who does not deny admits' story, and it suggests that he does," Scarborough said. "I suggest somebody at the White House get him to write a very strong statement letting the world know that he condemns the assassination of journalists and political rivals, because he suggests in the two interviews with O'Reilly and us that he does not."
Scarborough strongly disagreed with Trump's "moral equivalency" between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
"We have fed and we have freed more people on this planet than any other country in human history," Scarborough said. "How do you compare a country whose leader assassinates journalists, a country's leader who assassinates political rivals -- we saw one found dead in the street across from the Kremlin a year ago -- who jails economic rivals, who has an authoritarian regime that has put everybody on notice, he's plundered his country. Many people estimate that Putin is worth $200 billion that he has stolen from the Russian people, and yet this desire to keep preaching moral equivalency continues and it is baffling. It was disturbing enough a year ago, it is baffling now, as president of the United States, that he's still doing this."