I came across this allegation in multiple places, including the New York Times. However, I couldn't find the quote anywhere.

Supporters of Mrs. Clinton have argued that Mr. Trump’s evident affinity for Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — Mr. Trump has called him a great leader and echoed his policies toward NATO, Ukraine and the war in Syria — and the hacks of leading Democrats like John D. Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign, are clear indications that Russia has taken sides in the presidential race and that voters should know what the F.B.I. has found.

Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia - NYT Oct 31, 2016

So did he say it or not?


1 Answer 1


During his campaign, Trump has said this:

I've already said he is very much of a leader. The man has very strong control over his country.

At the same time, he criticized the Russian system, while praising Putin over Obama:

Now 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.

Trump has confirmed this position ("he's a better leader than Obama") in later interviews, while rejecting the claim that he said that Putin is "a great leader of his country".

He's also called him a "tough guy", "brilliant", said that "at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country"and "I’ve always had a good feeling about him", etc.

Trump also said:

I said, I don’t admire him. I said he was a strong leader, which he is. I mean, he might be bad, he might be good. But he’s a strong leader.

In an interview in 2013, Trump has also said:

And it really makes [Putin] look like a great leader, frankly

So while I wasn't able to find the exact phrase "[is a] great leader", it seems like an acceptable paraphrase of positive references to "strong leader", "very much of a leader", or "[looks] like a great leader", which Trump did use.

  • 1
    Like this foxnews.com/transcript/… ? "Great" + "Leader" is very much a collocation for Trump? Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 10:03
  • 2
    @LаngLаngС Yes, that's definitely true. Trump has eg called Kim Jong Un a "great leader" (in those words), and generally seems to admire "strong"/authoritarian leaders. I'll add your source to my answer.
    – tim
    Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 10:13
  • I am wondering if it is reasonable to include a quote from this transcript where he denies saying it (which is only weak evidence) but more importantly attempts to clarify his position.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 16:59
  • 1
    @Oddthinking I think Trump denying anything isn't really useful information, given how often he denies things despite hard evidence. I don't think that interview adds much new information, but I added it to show that Trump stood by the 'Putin is a better leader than Obama' position later as well.
    – tim
    Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 17:20
  • @Oddthinking I think verging into political analysis is outside this site's purview, and not a can I want opened, especially since there's a Politics SE where you may open these cans all day.
    – user11643
    Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 18:12

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