President Donald Trump lauded the efforts of Chinese President Xi Jinping after the nation's ruling Communist party announced it would lift the two-term limit for the presidency, setting the stage for limitless authoritarian rule.
In a fawning appraisal of the move, Trump said, "we'll have to give that a shot some day."
The closed-door remarks were obtained by CNN after they had been made in front of Republican donors at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Saturday.
"He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great," Trump said. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."
Much of the event was lighthearted and described as "upbeat, lengthy, and peppered with jokes and laughter," CNN noted. The White House did not return request for comment on whether or not the president's comments were meant to be taken as a joke.
Nonetheless, the remarks struck a harrowing tone and one that is deeply unprecedented from American presidents.
China's legislators are expected to gather on Monday to approve the constitutional amendment that would end the rule that limited Xi Jinping's rule to just two-terms.
Cheng Li, a Chinese political expert with for the Brookings Institution, described the move as "a critical moment in China’s history," according to the Associated Press.
Trump's bombastic rhetoric is certainly nothing new, and the White House is always quick to defend the president as having made them in jest, but has so far remained silent on his most recent comments. Trump recently also "joked" about the Democrats being "treasonous" and "un-American" for not applauding him during his State of the Union address in late January.
In reality, there's hardly anything funny about the president making jokes about labeling his opponents as "treasonous." The same way it's not exactly humorous to praise an authoritarian power grab that potentially sets the stage for indefinite rule. To suggest that it should also be done in the United States, is so far Trump's most hair-raising moment in which he has undermined democracy.
Twitter was quick to react to the president's comments.