Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defended Russian President Vladimir Putin against accusations that he has assassinated political adversaries and journalists, responding to criticism from his rivals over his embrace of praise from the Russian leader.

"Nobody has proven that he's killed anyone. … He's always denied it," Trump said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. "You're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country."

On Thursday, Putin praised Trump during a wide-ranging news conference, calling him "talented without doubt" and "brilliant." Trump has embraced the remarks, drawing fire from critics such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who facetiously called the alliance "a match made in heaven." Trump welcomed Putin's praise, citing it as proof that a Trump administration would be able to work well with the Russians.

"If he has killed reporters, I think that's terrible. But this isn't like somebody that's stood with a gun and he's, you know, taken the blame or he's admitted that he's killed," Trump added.

He also fired back at claims by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton that his anti-Muslim rhetoric has become fodder for recruiters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militant group, calling it "another Hillary lie."

WASHINGTON POST