Jun 14, 2018

What we’re watching: Fox News pushes Trump on North Korea

President Trump during greets Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Photo: Kevin Lim/The Straits Times/Handout via Getty Images

In an interview with Fox News immediately after their summit in Singapore, President Trump seemed to dismiss North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's brutality, and instead lavished him in praise, calling him "a very smart guy" and "a great negotiator."

Why it matters: Trump's stunningly abrupt 180 is all part of his schtick. "There's no nuance with Trump," Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan write. "He oscillates between extremes, embracing and banishing people, even without real changes in their behavior."

The big quote, from Trump's interview with Fox News' Bret Baier:

“Hey, he’s a tough guy. When you take over a country—a tough country, 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.”

Other memorable moments:

  • “I think we have a very good relationship. We understand each other.”
  • When pressed on Kim's human rights abuses: “Yeah, but so have other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”
  • “I would love to get the military out [of South Korea] as soon as we can because it costs a lot of money and a lot of money for us ... I would like to get them home. I would like to, but it is not on the table right now. At the appropriate time, it will be.”
  • Following up on his statement that Russia should be back in the G-7: "You know, we spend probably 25 percent of our time talking about Russia and I said wouldn't it be better if they were here ... I'm not for Russia. I'm for the United States .. but yes I think we're better off with a G-8 than a G-7."
  • "I think I'd probably have a good relationship with [Vladimir Putin] ... If he were at that meeting [G-7 summit], I could ask him to do things that are good for the world, that are good for the country, that are good for him."

Go deeper: Inside Trump's playbook for dealing with foreign leaders, The Washington Post's deep dive on life in North Korea

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