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Ex-FBI Official on MSNBC: Trump ‘Envies’ Dictators Like Putin Because They ‘Control the Press’

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace and her panel this afternoon were all alarmed by President Donald Trump being chummy with Vladimir Putin and engaging in some light banter about the press and “fake news.”

Wallace pointed out that journalists in Russia have actually been murdered. John Heilemann was struck by the body language, to which Wallace remarked, “It’s like they’re going to walk out and make out or something. It’s creepy. Touching his back. Honestly, I have seen Melania swat his hand on a foreign trip to Israel. I have never seen her let him touch her back the way he was touching Putin’s back. It’s creepy.”

Heilemann said he has no doubt that “if there were no legal constraints on Donald Trump, that his behavior towards journalists in this country might not go quite as far as Putin’s, but I’m certain there’s part of Donald Trump that would like to put some journalists in jail on a regular basis.”

HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen said the current atmosphere leaves many journalists worried about safety, saying, “The amount of time I spend protecting my reporters from trolls, from harassment––I’ve been doxxed, I’ve gotten threatening phone calls and voice messages. We’re living in a terrifying atmosphere. So seeing this kind of cozying up is truly shocking.”

Former FBI official and NBC News contributor Frank Figliuzzi expressed alarm about the erosion of elements of our democracy:

“I think he envies these dictators. And one of the things he envies about dictatorships is that they control the press. There are two things going on in the United States simultaneously with the press. One is we have Trump bashing them and starting to erode freedom of the press and then we have the rise of what I call state-sponsored media, with outlets like Fox. When those two things are going on simultaneously, we should be very concerned about the erosion of something that really is what our Founding Fathers thought we stood for. And I don’t hear enough outrage about it, to be quite honest with you.”

You can watch above, via MSNBC.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac