Trump admires tyrants and defends their atrocities. He has excused North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s mass executions (“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people”) and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s murders of journalists and dissidents (“At least he’s a leader”). As a presidential candidate, Trump shrugged off the gravity of using chemical weapons. “Saddam Hussein throws a little gas, everyone goes crazy,” he joked.
At home, Trump has encouraged religious persecution and political violence. He called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States (he later imposed a modified version of the ban) and for collective punishment of Muslims who live here. As a candidate, Trump urged his supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters. In 2018, at a political rally, he praised a Republican congressman for criminally assaulting a reporter. “Any guy that can do a body slam,” said Trump, “he’s my guy.”
Trump has long advocated war crimes. He has endorsed torture not just for information, but because our enemies “deserve it.” As a candidate, he proposed that for the sake of “retribution,” the United States should “take out” the families of terrorists. Wives and children were legitimate targets, he argued, because by killing them, we could deter terrorists who “care more about their families than they care about themselves.” Two months ago, he intervened in legal and military proceedings to thwart punishment of three American servicemen who had been indicted for or convicted of atrocities. Then he deployed the men in his reelection campaign.