Scarborough: Trump wasn’t joking about wanting to be president for life

"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE wasn’t joking when he said the U.S. could drop term limits for the president the way China has.

Trump had praised the move during a private event for GOP donors at Mar-a-Lago, joking that the U.S. might “give that a shot someday.”

“There are many people who will say, 'Oh, the president was just joking.' I could give you a list of a thousand things where they claimed the president was joking afterwards,” Scarborough said on his MSNBC show Monday morning.

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“But there are statements in the past that Donald Trump has made where he has praised Xi for consolidating power,” he said, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Scarborough said that Xi has “made conscious moves” to become more autocratic over the past year and that Trump has praised similar leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

“When Republicans ignore the fact that this man is talking about being president for life, if they think that Donald Trump is joking, then they’re fools,” Scarborough said. “And I don’t think they’re fools. I think they know exactly what he’s saying.”

CNN obtained a recording of Trump’s comments at the private GOP event, and noted that many of the president's remarks were light-hearted and joking.

"He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great," Trump said at the closed-door event on Saturday. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot someday."

Trump had slammed China over its trade practices with the U.S. but has praised Xi personally. He has hosted the Chinese president at his Mar-a-Lago estate, and visited China as part of an Asian tour last year.