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Joe Scarborough: Republicans are 'fools' if they think Trump is joking about wanting to be president for life

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"I think they know exactly what he's saying," Joe Scarborough said. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough says Republicans who think President Trump is just joking about consolidating his power are “fools.”

“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 Monday. “And I don’t think they’re fools. I think they know exactly what he’s saying.”

Over the weekend CNN obtained a recording of Trump at a private Republican fundraiser praising Chinese President Xi Jinping for consolidating his power. China’s Communist Party has proposed repealing presidential term limits, which could open the door for Xi to stay in power after his second five-year term in 2023.

“He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great," Trump said. "Maybe we'll give that a shot someday.”

Scarborough said Trump’s recent comments were “disturbing” because it’s not the first time he’s praised Xi who has “made conscious moves to become more autocratic.”

Though Trump has praised Xi personally, he has long criticized China for what he describes as unfair trade practices.