During a Fox News interview on Wednesday morning, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was pressed to clarify a tweet he posted on Tuesday calling totalitarian dictator Kim Jong Un “a total weirdo who would not be elected assistant dog catcher in any democracy.”
Rubio’s tweet came while President Trump is lavishing praise on the North Korean dictator as “a strong guy” with “a very good personality” who is “very strategic” and “very impressive.”
During the interview, Fox News’ Sandra Smith took her cue from Trump and pressed Rubio to “clarify” why he’s tweeting mean things about Kim.
“You’ve been tweeting a lot over the past 24 hours, and some have looked at your tweets as not only a criticism of Kim Jong Un, but some have seen them as a criticism as the president,” host Sandra Smith said. “As you just did now, you called Kim Jong Un a ‘weirdo,’ you said, ‘he’s a total weird who would be elected assistant dog catcher in any democracy.’ The president, he sits down with Sean Hannity, he’s talking about Kim Jong Un as someone who appeared to be funny, he’s smart, the president has said of him. So, could you clarify?”
Rubio responded by saying he has “nothing to clarify.”
“The president is the president of the United States. He was democratically elected by the people of this country, and in two and a half years people will have a chance to vote for him, or vote against him,” Rubio said. “Kim Jong Un’s never been elected to anything. He inherited from his father and his grandfather a dictatorship, he has murdered people, he has put people in death camps — deep suffering by the people of North Korea.”
“He has nuclear weapons, he has long-range missiles, he kills people abroad, including his own brother and others, and on top of all that, you know, this whole cult that they’ve created in their own country,” Rubio added. “Their government is a cult, it’s almost religious-like in its cult-like elements, it’s a very strange and weird place. It is what it is, and I’m not going to ignore that reality. That’s just a fact, these are not things that I’m making up, they are real.”
As the Sydney Morning Herald detailed, in North Korea, “an estimated 100,000 political prisoners are held in fetid gulag-style prisons, ‘re-education’ camps and forced-labour centers. Many are killed through torture or starved to death, according to defectors who have fled North Korea.”
More from the Herald:
In this year’s human rights report by the US State Department, North Korea stands out for the deplorable conditions described.
“Mothers were in some cases reportedly forced to watch the infanticide of their newborn infants,” the report states. Rape and other forms of torture, beatings and brutal interrogations were also common for people whose alleged crimes might have been nothing more than falling asleep at a political event or playing foreign music.
The North Korean people, the report said, also face “rigid controls over many aspects of [their] lives, including arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence, and denial of the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement; denial of the ability to choose their government.”
But in his comments about Kim, Trump has avoided mentioning the words “human rights,” and has instead emphasized North Korea’s potential for “commerce.”
During his interview with Trump, Hannity asked the president if humanitarian issues “came up” during his summit with Kim in Singapore. Trump immediately pivoted to ranting about the Korean War.
“That was a rough fight,” Trump said. “They were buried along the roadways, they were buried as, you know, soldiers were going back and forth into battle and they were burying them along roadways.”
During a news conference held immediately after the summit, Trump acknowledged that human rights were “discussed relatively briefly compared to denuclearization.”