Donald Trump has a soft spot for strongmen.
The president praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a Wednesday interview, calling the head of the totalitarian regime a “smart guy” and a “great negotiator.”
“He’s a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have, if you could do that at 27 years old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that,” Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “So he’s a very smart guy, he’s a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.”
BAIER: Kim Jong Un is “clearly executing people.”
TRUMP: “He’s a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, tough people, and you take it over from your father … if you could do that at 27-years old, I mean, that’s 1 in 10,000 that could do that.” (via FOX) pic.twitter.com/R8FfkREDYX
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 13, 2018
After North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died in 2011, his son, Jong Un, was named the head of the nation and went on to purge other family members from the party. Jong Un is widely suspected of killing of his half-brother.
When Baier pointed out some of the unsavory things Jong Un is accused of doing in North Korea, Trump demurred.
“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things,” Trump said. “I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”
With the president offering North Korea several concessions at the Singapore summit with Kim, including the cessation of military-preparedness training with the South Koreans and the possible removal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, critics of the administration say the U.S. is giving China exactly what it wants. Baier pressed that point with Trump in Wednesday’s interview.
“No, I think China would really like to see no nuclear weapons, you want to know the truth, because look, whether you’re semi-friendly with a nation or not, when they have nuclear weapons and you’re that close, that can’t be a positive feeling,” Trump said. “It just can’t be. So China’s been very helpful. I think over the last two months, maybe less so. I think the border got a little more open. Now, it didn’t affect today’s negotiation, but I think the border opened up a little bit more because China could be a little bit upset about trade because we’re very strongly clamping down on trade.”
Trump then pivoted to fondness for China’s leader.
“I have a very strong relationship with President Xi of China. He’s an incredible guy,” Trump said. “They just, essentially president for life, that’s pretty good.”
Trump on President Xi of China: “He’s an incredible guy. You know, essentially president for life. That’s pretty good.” pic.twitter.com/U0d8108edw
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 13, 2018
Rounding out Trump’s positive appraisal of leaders with a tight grip on power, the president was asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and his call to reinstate Russia into the G-7 alliance.
“I’m not for Russia, I’m for the United States,” Trump said. “But as an example, if Vladimir Putin were sitting next to me at a table instead of one of the others, and we were having dinner the other night in Canada, I could say ‘Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Syria? Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of the Ukraine, get out of Ukraine, you shouldn’t be there? Just come on. Now, I think I’d probably have a good relationship with him or I’d be able to talk to him better than if you call somebody on a telephone and talk. If I’m sitting like I was with the others, for instance the new prime minister of Italy. He is a great guy, we had a great relationship. He agrees with me on Putin by the way.”
Trump on why he wants Russia back in G7: “If Putin were sitting next to me & we were having dinner, I could say, ‘would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Syria? Would you get out of Ukraine? Just come on.’… I could ask him to do things that are good for the world.” pic.twitter.com/eBd2flJ3r9
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 13, 2018
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