In her book Speaking for Myself, released in the US next week, Ms Sanders says that the president joked about the incident after the meeting, saying: “Kim Jong-un hit on you!” and “He did! He f***ing hit on you!”
The Guardian reports that the book is neither a tell-all nor a “burn-all” in the style of other memoirs written about the Trump White House by disgruntled former staffers. Rather, Ms Sanders remains a faithful follower of the president.
Of the Kim Jong-un incident, Ms Sanders writes that the two leaders were discussing women’s soccer, when she looked up and saw that Mr Kim was staring at her.
“We made direct eye contact and Kim nodded and appeared to wink at me. I was stunned. I quickly looked down and continued taking notes … All I could think was, ‘What just happened? Surely Kim Jong-un did not just mark me!?”
When she told the president while riding in the presidential limousine on the way to the airport with him and then chief of staff, John Kelly, the two men appeared delighted and howled with laughter.
The president said: “Well, Sarah, that settles it. You’re going to North Korea and taking one for the team! Your husband and kids will miss you, but you’ll be a hero to your country!”
Ms Sanders, a devout Christian whose faith is a theme throughout the book — the subtitle is ‘Faith, Freedom and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House’ — writes that she told the president that she did not mean that the North Korean leader had hit on her and asked him to stop joking.
While a loyalist, Ms Sanders does write about misogynistic behaviour by the president and other staffers at the White House, which may concern the Trump re-election campaign.
Trump currently trails Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden among women, and polls suggest he has lost a sizeable portion of those women who voted for him in 2016.
Ms Sanders is believed to have political ambitions of her own and is reportedly interested in a run for governor of Arkansas. Her father, Mike Huckabee — a conservative stalwart who ran to be Republican nominee for president in 2008 and 2016 — was governor of the state from 1996 to 2007.
Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton did not recall Kim winking in his memoir, but does mention the discussion about women’s soccer and a further moment in which the president offered Kim a Tic Tac mint, which Ms Sanders also includes in her account.
The North Korean leader accepted it reluctantly after the president assured him it was a breath mint and not poison.
Trump and Kim met on three separate occasions — in Singapore, Hanoi, and at the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea — though the meetings, while historic, appear to have accomplished very little.
North Korea is believed to have increased its nuclear arsenal significantly in recent years.
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