Courtesy of Vox:
Earlier in Wednesday’s exchange, Lauer ran through a laundry list of Putin’s sins.
"He's also a guy who annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports Assad in Syria, supports Iran, is trying to undermine our influence in key regions of the world, and, according to our intelligence community, probably is the main suspect for the hacking of the DNC computers," the moderator said.
Trump responded by arguing, in effect, that Barack Obama was just as bad.
"Do you want me to start naming some of the things that President Obama does at the same time?" Trump asked.
What the what? Did he seriously defend Putin by suggesting that the American President did worse things?
Seriously that right there should have been enough to disqualify Trump from being the GOP nominee, but he went on.
"When he calls me brilliant, I'll take the compliment," Trump said during a televised town hall meeting Wednesday.
"He does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters," Trump said. "By the way, some of them are based here."
That’s not true — only one poll shows that level of support, and it was conducted by a Moscow-based nonprofit called the Levada Center — but those details are entirely beside the point. Given the chance to back away from his praise of Putin — a position that has alarmed many leading Republican national security figures — Trump chose to instead double down.
"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. 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."
Jesus Christ somebody get these two a room.
So to clarify, this candidate for the most powerful political position on the planet has demonstrated admiration for a man who undermines our interests around the world, supports some of the nations with whom we are in conflict, and is currently hacking our computers in an apparent attempt to affect our democratic election process.
How, how, how in the name of Ronald Wilson Reagan is this man the nominee for the party that once spent decades fomenting fear of Russia to justify obscene military spending?