In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Trump glossed over Kim’s record of atrocities in North Korea.
“You call people sometimes killers. He is a killer,” Baier said of Kim. “He’s clearly executing people.”
“He’s a tough guy,” Trump said. “Hey, when you take over a country, a tough country with 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 can do that at 27 years old, … that’s one in 10,000 that could do that.
“He’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other,” Trump said.
Trump was interviewed onboard Air Force One, on his way back from the Singapore summit on Tuesday after the president and Kim agreed to move to a denuclearization of the North without getting into the specifics of the plan.
“President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The statement provided little detail of what Trump and Kim committed to in terms of timeline and verification of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and how many nukes Kim is sitting on. Human rights was also missing from the joint statement.
Kim has been accused of ordering the killing of his uncle, a half-brother and hundreds of officials suspected of disloyalty while tens of thousands of North Koreans are imprisoned in labour camps.
Baier pushed Trump on the issue, saying Kim has “done some really bad things.”
“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I can go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”
Trump said he had raised the issue with Kim during his meeting in Singapore and he believed the North Korean leader wanted to “do the right thing.”
On Tuesday, Trump admitted that if he is wrong about Kim’s commitment to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, he will never admit to it.
“I don’t know that I will ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse,” Trump said.
After the day of meetings, Trump said that the two had a “special bond” and that Kim was a “very talented man.”