Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley criticized former President Donald Trump for previously defending Russian President Vladimir Putin upon learning that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was dead.
On Friday, Russian media announced that Navalny, 47, had died in prison after losing consciousness and making failed resuscitation attempts.
Putin’s main enemy was serving an 18-year prison sentence in a penal colony in Siberia and felt unwell after taking a walk, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said.
“Putin did this,” Haley said Friday in a post on X. “The same Putin that Donald Trump praises and defends.” The same Trump who said, ‘To be fair to Putin, you’re saying he killed people.’ I haven’t seen that.”
Trump made those comments in 2015 when he was the leading presidential candidate and rejected the idea that Putin was killing journalists.
‘Putin murdered his political opponent and Trump hasn’t said a word after saying he would encourage Putin to invade our allies. However, he has posted over 20 times on social media about his legal drama and fake polls,” Haley said in a follow-up post.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley (left) criticized former President Donald Trump for previously praising Russian President Vladimir Putin upon learning that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (right) was dead.
Haley, Trump’s latest rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, shared a 2015 quote from the former president in which he cast doubt on accusations that Putin had killed journalists.
In a follow-up post, Haley criticized Trump for staying silent about Navalny’s death but posting more than 20 times on social media about his legal drama and fake polls.
Since news of Navalny’s death made global headlines, Trump turned to Truth Social to preview upcoming campaign events, delve into President Joe Biden’s Friday trip to East Palestine, Ohio, and calling the people who created an AI-generated image of Trump “despicable.” playing golf where the former president looks fat.
For years, Trump has been in a precarious political position when it comes to Russia.
In the 2015 interview Haley referenced, Trump cast doubt that Putin was a killer during a conversation with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.
‘I don’t know if he has. Have you been able to prove that? Do you know the names of the journalists he killed? Because I’ve been… you know, you’ve been hearing this, but I haven’t seen the names,” Trump said. “He’s always denied it.”
Trump also maintained Putin’s denial that he interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
During a news conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, in June 2018, Trump was asked if he believed intelligence from U.S. agencies concluding that Russia had interfered in the election he won over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump said then that he was not convinced it was Moscow.
On Truth Social Friday, Trump called the guy who made an AI version of the former president playing golf (above left) where he looks fat “despicable.” He shared several photos of him playing golf in real life to make his point.
“I don’t see any reason why it would be that way,” Trump said. “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
The comments sparked widespread criticism.
For years, Trump opposed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 race and whether there was collusion with the Trump campaign.
The former president consistently called the effort a “witch hunt.”
On Saturday, Trump found himself in trouble again when he told a rally in South Carolina that he had told a NATO leader to pay or “encourage” Russia “to do whatever it wanted.”
He defended that claim during a rally Wednesday in North Charleston.
‘Look, if they are not going to pay, we are not going to protect. OK?’ he told the crowd, this time leaving out the part about the threat of a Russian invasion.
Both Haley and President Joe Biden attacked Trump for the comment.
‘What bothers me is that you don’t side with the bully who kills his opponents. Don’t take the side of someone who has come in and invaded a country,” Haley said of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “And half a million people have been killed or injured because of Putin.”
Biden criticized Trump’s comments about NATO on Friday while addressing the public about Navalny’s death.
We should all reject the dangerous statements of the previous president, who invited Russia to invade our NATO allies if they did not pay. He said that if an ally didn’t pay his debts, he would encourage Russia to “do whatever it wanted,” Biden said.
He then stopped speaking briefly as he gathered his thoughts.
“I guess I should clear my head a little bit and not say what I’m really thinking,” he continued after the break. ‘But let me be clear. “It’s a scandalous thing for a president to say.”
“I can’t understand it, I can’t understand it: from Truman on down, they are rolling in their graves hearing this,” Biden added.