When asked about Kim Jong Un's recent purge of North Korean officials, Trump couldn't help but side with the dictator.
Trump can't stop championing the actions of Kim Jong Un, even when it looks like Kim had people either murdered or thrown in jail over Trump's failed summit.
Last month, a South Korean newspaper reported that North Korea had executed Kim Hyok Chol, who had been the country's senior nuclear envoy and liaison to the United States. He was one of five North Korean foreign ministry officials killed in the wake of Kim's talks with Trump's collapsing earlier this year.
That same newspaper also reported that another senior official, Kim Yong Chol, had been purged and sentenced to hard labor.
However, new reports this week throw parts of that story into doubt. On Monday, North Korean media released a grainy photo of who they alleged to be Kim Yong Chol at the theater with Kim Jong Un. And on Tuesday, CNN reported that sources now say Kim Hyok Chol, who was supposed to have been executed, is actually alive and in state custody.
Trump was asked about this while in Ireland on Wednesday — and he couldn't resist standing up for Kim, even as he made no real sense.
"I don't know the reports are correct because one of the gentlemen who we deal with, this is North Korea they’re talking about, is somebody that we know well he’s a strong man, he’s a strong person," Trump said.
No one knows if the "strong person" Trump is talking about here is Kim Yong Chol, Kim Hyok Chol, or someone else entirely.
Further comments he made seem to show that he might be conflating the two.
"They like to blame Kim Jong Un immediately," Trump said. "But they said he was killed, and he wasn’t, he was at the theater the other night. So he wasn’t killed. The other four people I know nothing about."
Trump went on to call the confusion over a possible purge an "interesting situation," which is an absurd way to frame uncertainty about whether a dictator with a history of purging and murdering people did so this particular time.
On various occasions, Trump has called Kim "very honorable" and said he "fell in love" with him. In Kim Jong Un, he sees a bully that gets away with everything and has the entire apparatus of the state to back him up — and that's precisely what Trump wishes he had.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.