TRENTON - Gov. Christie clarified comments President Donald Trump made in his pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.

In an excerpt, Trump said he respects Russian president Vladimir Putin, and when O'Reilly  called the Russian leader "a killer," Trump said the United States has many of them.

"What do you think? Our country's so innocent?" Trump told O'Reilly.

Trump has long expressed a wish for better ties with Moscow. That has included praising Putin and signaling that U.S.-Russia relations could be in line for a makeover. This comes even after U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to help Trump win against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Putin has called Trump a "very bright and talented man."

During Putin's years in power, a number of prominent Russian opposition figures and journalists have been killed.

"I do respect him," Trump said. "I respect a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get along with him. He's a leader of his country. I say it's better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world — that's a good thing," Trump said. "Will I get along with him? I have no idea."

During an appearance on  CBS' Face the Nation, Christie said his 15 year friendship gives him insight into what Trump meant. "He respects Vladmir Putin because he believes the leaders of countries deserve to be treated with respect. He wants to be treated with respect around the world," Christie said. "But it doesn't mean that he agrees with him. It doesn't mean he won't fight him and it doesn't mean he won't stand up to him."

Christie said Trump's comments line up with his own statements that the United States is "morally superior" to Russia. "I know President Trump believes America is morally superior to Russia. I know he'll stand up and be tough with Vladimir Putin."

The governor continued to praise Trump to go from exchanging his wish for a complete ban on Muslims coming to the United States for "this executive order which is tailored and directed to deal with seven countries that are having a difficult time dealing with their own ability to control travel of their own people and policing of their own people," and shows his ability to listen to experts.

"The president has no hate in his heart for Muslim Americans. This is a president who has great affection for all Americans who are here working hard, raising their families and contributing to the fabric of our country " Christie said.

When host John Peterson asked Christie who is to blame for giving Trump bad guidance, the governor said he is getting advice from three sources: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and senior advisors Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon. "This isn't about assigning blame, this is about making sure it's done the right way. And so in the end, i believe the president deserves better."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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