Speaking to the press in front of a roaring Marine One, President Donald Trump gushed Tuesday about his warm relationship with North Korea’s ruthless leader. “I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un,” he said. “I think the relationship is very well [sic], but I appreciated the letter.”
Trump tried to downplay new reports that Kim Jong Un’s brother, Kim Jong Nam, may have been working with the CIA prior to his suspected execution by the North Korean government in 2017. Instead, he wanted to assure the dictator that he would never do anything so nefarious as to spy on an authoritarian regime like North Korea. “I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure,” Trump insisted. “I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”
“I will say it again,” Trump continued. “I think that North Korea has tremendous potential — and he’ll be there. I think that North Korea — under his leadership! But North Korea, because of what it represents — the people are great, the land is great, the location is incredible between Russia, China, and South Korea. I think North Korea has tremendous potential. And the one that feels that more than anybody is Kim Jong Un. He gets it. He totally gets it.”
Trump’s assessment of North Korea appears to have little to do with what it’s like for someone who lives there. In follow-up comments, all of his criteria referred to actions Kim Jong Un has taken with respect to U.S. interests. Trump listed no nuclear testing, no major missile testing (which is not even true), and the return of hostages and remains. “We have a relationship,” he boasted.
At no point did Trump reference Kim Jong Un’s history of human rights abuses or the authoritarian fist with which he rules North Korea.