Bill Maher told his startled Real Time guests tonight that he believes President Donald Trump is “capable” of following Vladimir Putin’s example by ordering political murders.
The comment came during the YouTube-only “Overtime” segment of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, so wasn’t seen by cable-watching viewers.
Towards the end of a fairly standard-issue discussion of Trump, Russia and other news of the day, Maher turned to conservative activist Ralph Reed Jr. and asked, point-blank, “Do you believe Vladimir Putin has ordered the murder of people?”
“Absolutely,” responded Reed.
“Do you think Trump is capable of that?,” Maher asked his panelists, then said, “Because I do. I think he loves dictators, loves the way they behave.”
The topic seemed to catch everyone but Maher off guard (someone in the audience even uttered a loud “Oh!” as soon as the question was posed).
Reed responded with a firm no, and GOP strategist Kristen Soltis Anderson managed a slightly flustered, “No, I don’t think so.” Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Joshua Green switched the subject to whether Trump would fire Robert Mueller, but CNN contributor Michael Weiss didn’t get off so easily. Asked directly about Trump’s killing potential, Weiss said, “I think if he thought he could get away with it, he would. But one thing we’ve learned is the resiliency of American institutions has checked this guy tremendously.”
Until the topic of assassination came up, Maher’s return from a summer hiatus was free of the controversy the host stirred up earlier in the season by uttering the N-word on-air. This time around, though, he saved the bomb for YouTube.
Watch the exchange in the video above, around the 14:25 minute mark.
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