Biden: Trump administration 'coddles autocrats and dictators'
© PBS NewsHour

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenWarren unveils plan to cancel student loan debt, create universal free college Moulton enters 2020 White House race The Hill's Morning Report - Is impeachment back on the table? MORE slammed President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE on Wednesday, saying that he "seems to have a love affair with autocrats" and expressing concerns about Trump's tepid response thus far to the disappearance of Saudi-born journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"I just don’t know why this administration seems to feel the need to coddle autocrats and dictators from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un to [Filipino President Rodrigo] Duterte," Biden told "CBS This Morning."

"I don’t want to speculate on my worst fears, but either he doesn’t know what he’s doing or he has an absolutely convoluted notion of what allows America to lead the world," he added.


Biden's criticism of the president came as the administration faces increasing pressure to act in response to the disappearance of Khashoggi, who has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi was killed in the consulate on orders from Saudi Arabian leaders.

Reports published Wednesday said the Turks have audio that proves Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the facility. Trump said the U.S. has requested access to the tapes.

U.S. lawmakers in recent days have indicated their belief that Khashoggi was killed, and warned that Saudi Arabia would face consequences if it's officials are found to have played a role.

Trump, meanwhile, has cited denials from Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On Tuesday, Trump criticized what he saw as a rush to declare Saudi Arabia responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance.

The president has also expressed a reluctance to touch lucrative weapons sales between the two nations.

Biden said the allegations, while still unproven, highlight the concerns he had in recent years about whether the crown prince would uphold human rights and the rule of law as he rose to power.

"The allegations that are made, so far we don’t know yet, are not inconsistent with the way the kingdom would act, and so I’m very worried that the president seems to have a love affair with autocrats," Biden told CBS.

"The idea that he’s already making excuses before the facts are known is typical, but it hurts us internationally," he added.

Biden is considered a potential Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential race, and has exchanged jabs with the president since leaving office.

A CNN poll published Sunday found that 33 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents picked Biden as their 2020 candidate of choice. The next most popular choice was Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersThe biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone GOP Senate campaign arm hits battleground-state Dems over 'Medicare for All,' Green New Deal Warren unveils plan to cancel student loan debt, create universal free college MORE (I-Vt.), with 13 percent.

Trump has said he'd welcome a challenge from Biden.