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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Over the past decade, allied intelligence agencies have pieced together a profile of the young Kim Jong-un from extensive interviews with teachers, students, food preparers, and other staff at the elite Swiss school that Kim attended during his adolescence, according to a source who has carefully studied the classified binder on Kim.

The big picture: "The picture that emerged from literally dozens of interviews bears a striking similarity with the man he has emerged into today," the source said. "Gluttonous, prone to fits of anger and swaggering around his classmates. Kim Jong-un was an in-attendant student but demanded slavish loyalty from other children in his wake."

  • "He was prone to violence,” the source added. “He had a couple of young guys who were with him" at the Swiss school, and "he hit them frequently."
  • "He didn't do well in school. He was distracted a lot."
  • The binder describes the young Kim making vague and grand declarations to his classmates — for example, after games he would say, in the source's recollection, "some day you will all remember me."

Why this matters: In his intelligence briefings, to prepare for his historic summit in Singapore, President Trump has shown intense interest in the personality and quirks of the reclusive Kim, according to sources familiar with his preparation.

  • Trump "definitely thinks it’s a duel of personalities," a source who has discussed North Korea with Trump previously told me.
  • Trump has been quizzing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about what Kim was like when the two men met.
  • The president also has access to far more detailed psychological and personality profiles of the dictator.
  • "There are important strategic considerations ... but he also very much conceives it as a test of wills and of a contest of one man and another,” the source added. “How they’re going to react, how they’re going to shadow box with each other, and ultimately how they’re going to choose to act."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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