Trump's former advisers say he praised Hitler and other dictators in private

Everyone is aware of Donald Trump's fascination with murderous autocrats, but a troubling report by CNN's Jim Sciutto reveals the depth of Trump's admiration and envy for dictators, including his shocking praise for Adolf Hitler.

Sciutto interviewed advisers such as retired Gen. John Kelly, Trump's former chief of staff, and John Bolton, former national security adviser, who provide firsthand accounts of Trump's disturbing views. Kelly recounts a particularly alarming conversation: "He said, 'Well, but Hitler did some good things.' I said, 'Well, what?' And he said, 'Well, [Hitler] rebuilt the economy.'" Trump also told Kelly that "he thought Putin was an OK guy and Kim was an OK guy — that we had pushed North Korea into a corner. To him, it was like we were goading these guys. 'If we didn't have NATO, then Putin wouldn't be doing these things.'"

Kelly told Sciutto that Trump's self-perception, in comparison to these autocratic figures, is delusional. "He's not a tough guy by any means, but in fact quite the opposite. But that's how he envisions himself." That's why he can't stop praising for leaders like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, whom he views as "big guys," similar to how he sees himself.

From Sciutto's report:

At a town hall organized by Fox News in July 2023, Trump said, "Think of President Xi: central casting, brilliant guy. When I say he's brilliant, everyone says, 'Oh, that's terrible.' He runs 1.4 billion people with an iron fist: smart, brilliant, everything perfect. There is nobody in Hollywood like this guy."

In an interview with Fox that same month, Trump lavished praise on Putin as well, describing him as smarter than President Joe Biden. "These are smart people, including Macron of France. I could go through the whole list of people, including Putin .… These people are sharp, tough, and generally vicious," Trump said. "They're vicious, and they're at the top of their game. We have a man that has no clue what's happening. It's the most dangerous time in the history of our country."

John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, echoes these concerns, highlighting Trump's misguided admiration for dictatorial behaviors and his wishful thinking about possessing similar powers. "He views himself as a big guy," Bolton told Sciutto. "He likes dealing with other big guys, and big guys like Erdogan in Turkey get to put people in jail and you don't have to ask anybody's permission. He kind of likes that."

In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung dismissed these claims, calling the former White House staffers liars. "John Kelly and John Bolton have completely beclowned themselves and are suffering from a severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. They need to seek professional help because their hatred is consuming their empty lives," said Cheung.