Trump says he wants to be like Kim Jong Un: "I want my people" to "sit up at attention"

Trump praised the North Korean dictator on Fox News: "He's the head of a country, and I mean he's the strong head"

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 15, 2018 11:41AM (EDT)

 (Fox News)
(Fox News)

During an impromptu interview on the White Houe lawn with Steve Doocy of "Fox and Friends" on Friday, President Donald Trump offered some chilling words of praise for North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim Jong Un.

"I have a fantastic relationship now with North Korea. You know, there were missiles being thought about. People aren't thinking about it anymore," Trump said early during his talk with Doocy. As the interview progressed, the conversation returned to the subject of North Korea, with Trump bragging about his budding friendship with Kim Jong Un and his accomplishments at the summit.

"We get along very well. We had a good chemistry. I don't know if that's supposed to be popular or politically correct to say, but we really did. We had good chemistry," Trump told Doocy.

When referencing the critics who have cast aspersions on Trump's effusive praise for the strongman, the president replied, "What am I supposed to do? Walk out and say, 'Terrible!' I mean, I got along with him very well. We had good chemistry. I asked him, 'The remains, I'd like to get them.' He said, 'Yes, we will do that.' They are already starting to produce the remains of these great young soldiers who were left in North Korea. We're getting the remains! And nobody thought that was possible."

The reference to "the remains" refers to the bodies of American soldiers who died fighting in Korea.

"It's funny when you see the fake news, and you guys aren't fake, but I signed an agreement where we get everything. Everything! But they say 'Trump lost because he agreed to meet! Trump agreed to meet!'" Trump reiterated to Doocy, before again returning to his praise for Kim Jong Un.

"He wants to do something great with his country. He wants to make his country great!" Trump insisted to Doocy, adding that having Kim Jong-un at the White House "could happen."

Trump also praised Kim Jong Un for being "the strong head" of his country. "Don't let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same."

Kim Jong Un wasn't the only despot who was praised by Trump during his interview. As he discussed the impending 25 percent tariffs on China, Trump made a point of lavishing kind words on that country's strongman leader as well.

"Look, he's my friend, President Xi. He's a great man. He's a wonderful guy. But at some point we have to straighten it out," Trump told Doocy about his Chinese counterpart.

The president has a long history of expressing affinity and admiration for foreign dictators. He has offered glowing assessments of the draconian methods used by Philippine's President Rodrigo Duterte to fight drugs in his country, responded to the news that Xi had been declared "president for life" by musing that "maybe we’ll want to give that a shot someday" and has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump was even reported as having commented that he wished Fox News' reporting of him could be as fulsome as the coverage of Kim Jong-un by North Korean media:

At one point, after watching North Korean television, which is entirely state-run, the president talked about how positive the female North Korean news anchor was toward Kim, according to two people familiar with his remarks. He joked that even the administration-friendly Fox News was not as lavish in its praise as the state TV anchor, one of the people added, and that maybe she should get a job on U.S. television, instead.

The president also spoke with Doocy about the recent report from the Department of Justice regarding former FBI Director James Comey.

"It was Comey, they were talking about Comey, not my FBI, it was Comey. The people in the FBI are incredible. I would bet if you took a poll in the FBI, I would win that poll by more than anybody's ever won a poll," Trump told Doocy. "But the top people were horrible. You look at what happened. They were plotting against my election. Probably has never happened like that in terms of intelligence, in terms of anything else. But they were actually plotting against my election. I'm actually proud because I beat Clinton dynasty, I beat Bush dynasty, and now I guess, hopefully I'm in the process of beating very dishonest intelligence."

He did dispute the report's conclusion that Comey had not done anything illegal, however, arguing that "the end result was wrong."

He also defended his conduct at the G7 summit, saying that "it ended well. For the United States, it ended well." He added that "we need protection. Everybody's taking advantage of us," ticking off China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union as entities that were doing so.

He also offered his own account of his recent tiff with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"We're hugging. We're saying goodbye. Everybody's happy," Trump told Doocy. "I made changes to the agreement because I wanted it to be much better for the United States. I made changes. We're all happy. And then he got up and started saying that he doesn't want to be pushed around by the United States. Well, they charge us almost 300 percent on dairy products. So we can't do that stuff."

He also praised the newly-elected right-wing prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte.

"The new prime minister of Italy is great. Got to meet him. Very strong on immigration, like I am by the way. It seems that strong on immigration wins now," Trump told Doocy. "The Democrats, by the way, are very weak on immigration. And if you notice, when I came over, they were all saying about separating the families. And that's a Democrat bill. That's Democrats wanting to do that and they could solve it very easily by getting together."

About Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea, Trump offered this defense to reporters in front of the White House on Friday: "President Obama lost Crimea because president Putin didn't respect President Obama, didn't respect our country and didn't respect Ukraine."

The president also addressed the ongoing question of whether he will be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller regarding the Trump-Russia investigation.

"They're getting people who say something a little bit off. 'Is it a nice day?' 'Well, you know, it's not a great day.' 'Oops! He lied! He goes, you know, got problems,'" Trump told Doocy. "People are afraid of that and I would like to talk, but it seems to be very biased."

He later added, "I said on the Department of Justice I would stay uninvolved. Now I may get involved at some point if it gets worse. I say, I'm staying uninvolved. I'm letting this report go through."

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Fox News "fox & Friends" Kim Jong-un Steve Doocy