President Donald Trump praised Kim Jong Un during a Fox News interview yesterday, calling the leader of a 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.”
The president’s comments are particularly alarming when one considers Kim’s human rights record, which is widely considered the worst in the world. The North Korean representative’s human rights abuses are lengthy and include torturing, starving, and killing his own people and charges of indefinite detention.
When Baier pointed to Kim’s human rights record, Trump objected.
“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.”
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
The president also addressed Baier’s concerns that he had offered North Korea several concessions, including the cessation of military-preparedness training with the South Koreans and the possible removal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula. The president’s critics allege that these concessions––diminished American influence on the penninsula––are precisely what China wants.
To that, Trump said that the Chinese have been “very helpful”:
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. t 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.
The president said he has “a very strong relationship” with President Xi Jingping of China and noted that Xi had been appointed president for life.
“They just, essentially president for life, that’s pretty good,” he said.
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
The president’s statement mirrors one he made at a rally in March, in which he praised leader of the Chinese Communist Party, who had his political thoughts written into the party and state constitutions, and effectively abolished term limits for the presidency. (“He’s now president for life,” Trump said at the time. “President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”)