Trump Wasn't Joking About Ruling for Life, 'Morning Joe' Host Warns About President's Comments Admiring Xi Jinping

Folks in the room seemingly took it as a joke when President Donald Trump admired China's President Xi Jinping for consolidating power and becoming "president for life."

"And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great," Trump said in a closed-door address to Republican donors at his Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida over the weekend, according to CNN. "Maybe we'll have to give that a shot someday."

Apparently that comment was met with laughter. Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman turned host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, warned not to take these comments from Trump lightly. If America lets him, he'll try to rule over the country for life, Scarborough said on his show Monday.

"When Republicans are saying, 'It's just a joke' or 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, via Mediaite. "And I don't think they're fools. I think they know exactly what he's saying."

Republicans, the president of the United States praises a communist autocrat for becoming dictator for life and then suggests they keep him in power for life. Wake up.

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) March 4, 2018

As evidence for his claim that Trump does want to actually be president for life, Scarborough noted that the president has praised autocratic rulers time and again, including Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has overseen a brutal so-called war on drugs that has killed thousands. "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem," Trump told Duterte in a phone call last April, according to The New York Times.

"If they think that Donald Trump is joking, then they're fools, and I don't think they're fools." - @joeNBC

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 5, 2018

It would, of course, be illegal for Trump to serve more than two, four-year terms as president. The U.S.'s first president, George Washington, set that precedent, which was made official in 1951.

In the same speech to GOP donors in which he floated the idea of serving as president for life, Trump—as he is wont to do—also ruminated on the 2016 election and his enduring feeling that it was fixed against him despite his victory.

"I'm telling you, it's a rigged system folks," Trump said, via CNN. "I've been saying that for a long time. It's a rigged system. And we don't have the right people in there yet. We have a lot of great people, but certain things, we don't have the right people."