Donald Trump once said “Otto Warmbier was tortured beyond belief in North Korea,” but today he said he believed North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un didn’t know about it:

“He felt badly about it. He knew the case very well, but he knew it later. You got a lot of people, a big country, a lot of people. And in those prisons and camps, you have a lot of people. And some really bad things happened to Otto. Some really, really bad things. But he tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.” 

That’s a leap that even some of Trump’s strongest supporters don’t buy.  One called the president’s defense of Kim “reprehensible.”

If the “I take him at his word” spin sounds familiar, it is.  Trump took the word of Vladimir Putin on the 2016 election and Saudi’s Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Jamal Khashoggi. The Washington Post writes:

Trump’s defense of Kim mirrors his willingness to take the word of autocrats in other cases despite the findings of his own government or experts, particularly when confronting the leader is not what Trump sees as in his political interest.