Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he gets along better with world leaders "the tougher and meaner they are"

In a new clip from an interview with Bob Woodward, President Trump said that his relationships with world leaders are better "the tougher and meaner they are," naming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an example.

Why it matters: Trump has often faced criticism for his warm relations and praise for authoritarian leaders like Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He has had a more confrontational relationship with traditional U.S. allies like Germany and South Korea.

What he's saying: "I get along very well with Erdogan, even though you're not supposed to because everyone says, 'What a horrible guy.' But, you know, for me it works out good," Trump told Woodward in a clip released on NBC's "Today."

  • "It's funny, the relationships I have, the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them. You'll explain that to me someday, ok? But maybe it's not a bad thing. The easy ones I maybe don't like as much or don't get along with as much."

Woodward's response: "The president controls foreign relations unilaterally. He decides, and he has decided, oh, I'm going to get along with Putin, I'm going to get along with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, MBS, and I'm going to try to get along with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea."

  • "But not South Korea. He just smears South Korea time and time again in my interviews," Woodward continued. "He is the face of the United States to the world. And he has said, hey look, I get along with these bad guys but not the good guys."
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