On Tuesday, Trump met Kim in Singapore for a historic summit on denuclearization. The two shook hands, smiled, went for a walk and dined together (a sharp contrast to the tumultuous relationship between the two leaders only months ago).
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Kim — who has been accused of murder, torture and sexual violence — was hailed as someone with a “great personality” and a “very talented man” by Trump.
Trump has had a less friendly tone toward Trudeau.
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Trudeau, who defended Canada’s trade policies over the weekend, was called “weak” and “dishonest” by the U.S. president. One of Trump’s aides even went as far as to say, “there is a special place in hell” for leaders like Justin Trudeau. (The aide apologized for that choice of words on Tuesday.)
Here’s what Trump has said about the two leaders over the past few days.
During a media conference Tuesday, Trump was asked why he was so comfortable calling Kim a “talented man.”
Trump responded by saying: “Well, he is very talented. Anybody who takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it, and run it tough. I don’t say it was nice.”
Trump said he formed a “very special bond with” with Kim and they got along right from the beginning of the summit.
When Trump was pressed about Kim’s human rights abuse, he said he discussed it with the North Korean leader but did not elaborate.
“I believe it’s a rough situation over there, there’s no question about it. We did discuss it today, pretty strongly,” Trump said. “We’ll be doing something on it. It’s rough. It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there. But it’s rough.”
Trump also told reporters that he does not say Kim is “nice” but believed he would end up helping people in North Korean prison camps.
The U.S. president’s comments were a far cry from his speech to the UN in September, in which he called Kim a “rocket man” on a “suicide mission” and smalled the regime’s human rights abuses.
“It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing and oppression of countless more,” Trump said in September.
Kim, an authoritarian leader, has been accused by the U.S. of ordering the public assassination of his half-brother with a nerve agent, executing his uncle by firing squad and presiding over a notorious gulag estimated to hold 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners.
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Trump’s friendliness to Kim is a stark contrast to his current tone with Trudeau. And it started over trade tariffs the U.S. imposed on Canada last month.
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Trudeau said it was an “insult” that Trump would justify his steel tariffs as a national security issue, and confirmed that Canada will move forward with retaliatory tariffs.
Trump then blasted Trudeau in a series of tweets, mid-air on his way to the North Korea summit, calling the prime minister “meek and mild” and “very dishonest and weak.”
Trump aides Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro joined the criticism and characterized Trudeau as dishonest and inexperienced.
“He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow, Trump’s director of the National Economic Council, told CNN. Kudlow also characterized Trudeau’s comments as “amateurish” and “sophomoric.”
Trade adviser Peter Navarro went even further during an appearance on Fox News.
“There is a special place in hell for any leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door and that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference,” Navarro said.
Navarro apologized for his choice of words during a speaking engagement on Tuesday. “In conveying that message I used language that was inappropriate and basically lost the power of that message. I own that, that was my mistake, my words,” he said, according to a CFO Journal report on Twitter.
On Tuesday, after Trump met with Kim, he again attacked Trudeau for his comments, saying they would “cost a lot of money for the people of Canada.”
He then compared his relationship with Trudeau with the North Korean leader.
“I have had a good relationship with Justin and I think I have a very good relationship with chairman Kim right now,” Trump said.
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