Former CIA Director John McLaughlin raised a disturbing alarm about North Korea's sway over naïve and impressionable Trump.
The possibility of a meeting between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was already troubling. But as former CIA Director John McLaughlin pointed out, Trump's egotism and gullibility make it all the more worrisome.
Trump has lobbed childish insults at Kim in the past, months after praising him. And he now continues to coyly hint at a future meeting. But he's also made it clear how clueless he is about even the basics of diplomacy with such a volatile adversary.
This kind of erratic and pompous posturing seems to be a parallel between Trump and Kim, MSNBC's Joy Reid noted Sunday morning. But there are crucial differences, as McLaughlin noted.
First, Trump "lives in a Democratic society," not an authoritarian regime like North Korea. Yet especially in his Twitter tantrums, Trump displays a similar mindset to Kim's, including taking credit where it may not be due.
North Korea announced Friday evening that it was suspending its nuclear and long-range missile tests. Trump predictably tweeted about the "big progress" being made. Yet as McLaughlin noted, Kim had already ceased testing some time ago; his nuclear program simply no longer requires it.
But further, McLaughlin offered a disturbing scenario of how things may be playing out from North Korea's side.
"I am quite confident that North Korea has been studying [Trump] very carefully. They understand he likes to claim credit for success. And they've already given him one thing that is potentially positive," he observed.
Kim has given Trump "something that he can crow about." McLaughlin highlighted that as "successful manipulation of the president."
That Kim could so easily draw praise from him — even when what he's offered could be taken away in a moment, as McLaughlin noted — only adds to the instability Trump has introduced on the global stage.
The leader of the United States must be able to communicate with hostile adversaries. But they also must know when those adversaries are using or fooling them. And they should be able to put the world's safety over their own ego.
All his claims of being a genius aside, Trump doesn't seem able to make those assessments. And Kim Jong Un likely knows it.