Speaking at a rally in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump praised Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
He called both leaders "fierce," adding that Xi is "smart" to rule China with an "iron fist."
Xi and Putin have troubling records of human rights abuse.
Former President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a Saturday rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a video shows.
"I've got to know a lot of the foreign leaders, and let me tell you, unlike our leader, they're at the top of their game," Trump said, comparing Xi and Putin to President Joe Biden.
The former president went on to describe Xi and Putin as "fierce" and "smart" before anticipating the reaction from the media.
"A lot of times, I'll call somebody smart, and the 'Fake News' will go, 'he called President Xi smart,'" Trump said.
"He rules with an iron fist, 1.5 billion people, yeah I'd say he's smart," he continued. "Wouldn't you say he's smart?"
Xi, whose authoritarian tenure has been marked by an increase in censorship and mass surveillance, has been accused by Human Rights Watch of starting a "broad and sustained offensive on human rights" since he became China's leader in 2012.
Earlier this week, the UN found that Xi's government has committed "serious human rights violations" of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang province. Investigators said they found "credible evidence" of torture which could amount to "crimes against humanity," per the report.
Putin launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and a formal International Criminal Court investigation is underway to determine if Russia has committed war crimes during the war.
Putin has also jailed political opponents, introduced oppressive censorship laws, and overseen the persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya.
Trump has previously praised Putin as "smart," referring to his justification to invade Ukraine as "genius." He's also complimented Xi, saying, "he liked me and I liked him," per Newsweek.
During Trump's speech in Pennsylvania, he also called Biden an "enemy of the state" and complained about the FBI's Mar-a-Lago raid.