Kim Jong-un 'gets a huge laugh' out of Trump, former aide John Bolton claims in TV interview

Former national security adviser says president only wanted publicity from North Korea meeting and says US 'got nothing' from it

Griffin Connolly
Monday 22 June 2020 03:28 BST
Trump Kim summit: What you need to know

North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un "gets a huge laugh" out of Donald Trump's notion that the two are friends, John Bolton, the president's former national security adviser, has said.

Mr Bolton sat for an interview with ABC News that aired on Sunday to promote his new book, The Room Where It Happened, which hits shelves on Tuesday.

Asked by ABC's Martha Raddatz whether Mr Trump "really believes Kim Jong-un loves him," Mr Bolton responded that he doesn't know of any other explanation for the president's statements.

"I think Kim Jong-un gets a huge laugh out of this. I mean, these letters that the president has shown to the press — off the record and whatnot, but I've been in the room when he's done it — are written by some functionary in the North Korean Workers Party Agitprop Office," Mr Bolton said, referring to personal letters the North Korean leader has supposedly written to Mr Trump.

"And yet, the president has looked at them as evidence of this deep friendship. Even if it were a deep personal relationship, it doesn't change the fact Kim Jong-un is never going to give up his nuclear weapons program. And from the US national security point of view, that is the only thing that matters," Mr Bolton said.

But the nuances of national security were only of trifling concern for Mr Trump compared to what he determined would be a political windfall from meeting with Mr Kim, Mr Bolton said.

"That's what he was focused on — that he had had this enormous photo opportunity. First time an American president has met with the leader of North Korea," Mr Bolton said.

"And he got enormous attention from it. I thought it was a strategic mistake. The US itself got nothing from that. Donald Trump got a lot. The United States gave much more legitimacy to this dictator and didn't accomplish anything toward any meaningful discussion on the elimination of their nuclear weapons program," Mr Bolton said.

Mr Trump has said on multiple occasions he believes his face-to-face meetings with Mr Kim should position him to win the Nobel Peace Prize, despite politicians and scholars from Mr Trump's own party saying the meetings did not have any lasting positive impact on US-North Korea relations.

After Mr Trump and Mr Kim first met face to face in Singapore in June 2018, Mr Trump wanted to set up more meetings, which Mr Bolton thought was a bad idea and a waste of time.

"He wanted another meeting. And I finally said, 'Mr President, he's the dictator of a rat s*** little country that doesn't deserve a meeting with you,'" Mr Bolton said he told Mr Trump.

"The president's response to that was, 'You know, you have a lot of hostility. Of course, I have more hostility. But you have a lot of hostility.' I normally didn't resort to that kind of approach with the president. I tried to do it in more even-handed language. But there are times when he just didn't seem to want to listen to it," Mr Bolton said.

The former national security adviser, who previously served three Republican presidents in various national security and diplomatic roles, plans to write in the name of a "conservative Republican" on his 2020 presidential election ballot, a spokeswoman said in a statement on Sunday.

Mr Bolton became Mr Trump's third national security adviser in April 2018. He resigned in September 2019 after multiple clashes with the president.

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