Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES/Handout/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump was effusive in his praise of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the summit in Singapore, but the kind words didn’t stop there.
In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier that was conducted on the flight back from Singapore and aired Wednesday night in the U.S., Trump didn’t seem concerned by the dictator’s well-established history of abusing human rights.
When Baier noted that Kim is “a killer, he’s clearly executing people,” Trump responded by calling Kim “a tough guy.”
“Hey, when you take over a country, 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, I mean that’s one in 10,000 that could do that. So he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator. But I think we understand each other,” Trump said in the Fox News clip.
Baier followed up, saying “But he’s still done some really bad things.”
“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done,” Trump said.
The president went on to say that he’s going “from today” in terms of dealing with Kim.
This is far from the first time that Trump has shared positive views of strongmen and dictatorial rulers: he gave Syria’s Bashar al-Assad “an A” in terms of leadership in 2015; said the U.S. would be “so much better off” if Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi was still in charge in 2016; and last year, he defended Russian President Vladimir Putin by saying “there are a lot of killers” in the world, adding, “You think our country’s so innocent?”
As for Kim’s horrid history, the United Nation released a report in 2014, three years after he took control of North Korea. The report said “crimes against humanity have been committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State.”
“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” the report stated.
Trump was also asked about Kim’s human rights abuses in his news conference in Singapore following the summit.
ABC News chief White House correspondent Jon Karl asked if Trump believes Kim needs to change his approach to human rights.
“Jon, I believe it’s a rough situation over there. There’s no question about it and we did discuss it today pretty strongly. I mean knowing what the main purpose of what we were doing is — de-nuking — but discussed it in pretty good length. 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 and we will continue that and I think ultimately we will agree to something. But it was discussed at length. Outside of the nuclear situation, one of the primary topics,” Trump said.
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