President Trump revealed Tuesday that he had spoken directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before their summit and said he trusts the brutal dictator — but acknowledged he may eventually admit he “made a mistake,” according to a report.
“I do trust him, yeah,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “Maybe in a year you’ll be interviewing and I’ll say I made a mistake. It’s possible. We’re dealing at a high level, a lot of things can change a lot of things are possible.”
The president had refused for weeks to answer whether he had communicated with the Kim in the run-up to their historic meeting in Singapore.
During a visit to Mar-a-Lago in April, Trump said he had spoken with Kim personally, but an aide quickly walked back the statement, saying it was other officials who’d spoken with the despot.
It was later announced that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had traveled to Pyongyang to meet with Kim.
On Tuesday, Stephanopoulos asked Trump about his previous criticism of the Hermit Kingdom’s human-rights abuses, including starving his people, operating labor camps and even killing his own relatives.
“I’m given what I’m given,” Trump said. “This is what we have, this is where we are, and I can only tell you from my experience, and I’ve met him, I’ve spoken with him. I’ve met him. And this is, this has started early and it’s been very intense.
“I think that he really wants to do a great job for North Korea. I think he wants to de-nuke, without that, there’s nothing to discuss,” he continued. “It was on the table from the beginning, and you see a total denuclearization of North Korea – so important.”
Trump drove home the point that he discerned a willingness by Kim to do the right thing.
“Over my lifetime I’ve done a lot of deals with a lot of people and sometimes the people you most distrust turn out to be the most honorable ones and the people that you do trust turn out to be not the honorable ones,” he said.
When asked if there was a discussion of pulling the roughly 28,000 US troops out of South Korea, Trump said the topic never came up.
“We didn’t discuss that, no. We’re not going to play the war games… I thought they were very provocative. … They’re also very expensive,” said Trump, who also called the games “provocative.”
The president also said talk about the possible removal of the US nuclear umbrella over the South was not discussed during the sit-down.
Trump also said he would “love” to invite Kim to the White House.
“Whatever it takes,” he said.
The president, who is known to function on little sleep, acknowledged that even for him, the past week has been “intense.”
“I’ve been up 24 hours now straight between phone calls and working it,” he said. “This is a very, look this is 72 years we’re talking about, and we put it into one very intensive day and some meetings beforehand.”
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