Trying to rally support amid his anger and frustration after the North Korea summit, Donald Trump has called for Americans to act like North Koreans in the authoritarian regime of Kim Jong-un.
Trump has been agitated since his return on Tuesday from the Singapore summit with Kim. The outcome has been questioned after no movement by North Korea on the nuclear issue, Trump’s lack of preparation, and his sudden concession to Pyongyang with the halt of US-South Korean military exercises. Meanwhile, Trump is faced with the ongoing Russia investigation, including the return of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort to prison; the fallout from his undermining of the G7 summit and consigning other leaders to a “special section of hell”; and a civil lawsuit against the Trump Foundation alleging that Trump took its funds for personal use.
So, amid a stream of agitated tweets on Friday morning, he went down on the White House South Lawn for an impromptu interview with his media ally Fox and Friends, issuing his proclamation through a series of softball questions and prompts from Fox’s Steve Doocy.
Trump put out his standard lines attacking the Russia inquiry, assaulting his agencies like the Justice Department and the FBI and “scum on top” like former Director James Comey, and pushing his anti-immigration policies and The Wall. But he claimed new ground as he reiterated in his invitation to Kim Jong-un to visit the White House and continued his praise of the leader: “He’s the head of the country. And I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different.”
Then Trump suggested that Americans should emulate the obedience in North Korea’s restricted political system: “[Kim] speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
Trump later tried to walk back the remark: “I was kidding. You don’t understand sarcasm.”
He pushed aside the challenge that he should have raised human rights in the Singapore summit: “I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family. I want to have a good relationship with North Korea.”
He defended the suspension of the “war games” — North Korea’s term — with South Korea, “I saved a lot of money.”
And he repeated the falsehood that “fathers and mothers” of those killed in the Korean War had begged him during the 2016 campaign to recover the remains of POWs and MIAs.
Those “father and mothers” would be at least 99 years old today.
The full Fox interview:
And Trump’s subsequent ad hoc conference with a group of reporters: