White House Scrambles To Deny Trump’s Claim That Melania And Kim Jong Un ‘Know Each Other Personally’
The White House on Monday scrambled to issue a denial after President Donald Trump told a room of reporters that “first lady Melania Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un know each other personally.”
Trump’s claim came during a closing news conference at the annual G-7 summit. The president used a question about the breakdown in relations with Iran to paint a parallel to the progress of nuclear talks between his administration and North Korea.
Calling Iran a “country with tremendous potential” prior to becoming an international provocateur and ramping up its nuclear program, Trump said he believes North Korea has similar potential if only it would disband its nuclear arsenal.
“I also say that, by the way, with respect to North Korea,” Trump told reporters. “Kim Jong Un, who I’ve gotten to know extremely well, the first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong Un and I think she would agree with me, he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.”
As Trump mentioned his wife, a camera cut to Melania in the audience, who cocked her head slightly and looked somewhat quizzically at the president.
Several hours later, as the president and first lady flew back to Washington, press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement shedding light on Trump’s comments, according to Politico.
“President Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim,” she said, “And while the First Lady hasn’t met him, the President feels like she’s gotten to know him too,” she added, Politico reports.
Trump has repeatedly showered praise on Kim, a dictator who oversees a brutal and murderous regime in Pyongyang. A meeting in Singapore last year was the first between leaders of the two countries, and was followed by a second round of nuclear talks earlier this year that fell apart without a deal.
Trump has praised Kim’s letters as “really beautiful” and “nice.” In June, the president told reporters of a “very beautiful birthday card” he received from Kim, just before making a historic first visit to the DMZ to meet with Kim.
The president is considering a third summit with Kim before next year’s election, despite Kim conducting multiple missile tests that have unnerved allies in the region and that Trump’s own national security adviser has said violate United Nations security council resolutions.
But Trump over the weekend defended those missile tests, which have increased in recent months. In one particularly extraordinary break, Trump downplayed the tests during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, telling Trump bluntly that “our position is very clear” that Kim’s missile launches “clearly violate” the U.N. security council resolutions.