“He f*cking hit on you”: Trump told Sarah Sanders to “take one for the team” after Kim Jong-un wink

“Sir, please stop,” Sanders said she told Trump as he joked she should leave her family and go to North Korea

By Igor Derysh
September 2, 2020 9:45PM (UTC)
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Sarah Sanders and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

President Trump told former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders to "take one for the team" after joking that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un had "hit on" her during the two leaders' infamous Singapore summit in 2018, according to Sanders' new book.

Sanders writes positively about her time in the Trump White House in her upcoming book "Speaking for Myself" but included an uncomfortable moment between herself and the president during the summit, according to excerpts published by The Guardian and The New York Times.

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Sanders wrote that she noticed "Kim staring at me" during a meeting.

"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," she wrote. "All I could think was, 'What just happened? Surely Kim Jong-un did not just mark me!?'"

As she joined Trump and then-chief of staff John Kelly in the president's limousine, the president mocked her over the wink.

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"Kim Jong-un hit on you!" Trump said, according to Sanders. "He did! He f*cking hit on you!"

"Sir, please stop," Sanders pleaded, according to the excerpt.

"Well, Sarah, that settles it. You're going to North Korea and taking one for the team!" Trump joked, as he and Kelly "howled with laughter," according to Sanders. "Your husband and kids will miss you, but you'll be a hero to your country!"

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During another point during the summit, Sanders wrote that Trump agitated Kim by offering him a Tic Tac.

"Kim, confused, and probably concerned it was an attempt to poison him, wasn't sure how to respond," she wrote. "The president dramatically blew into the air to reassure Kim it was just a breath mint and took a few from the box and popped them into his mouth. Kim reluctantly accepted the Tic Tac from President Trump and ate it."

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Sanders wrote that Trump repeatedly called up friends and celebrities to brag about his meeting during the summit, at one point calling golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

"I suspect the president was looking for someone to talk to about something lighter than North Korea and nuclear armageddon so he asked for the phone and called Jack," she wrote. "We motioned to the president it was time. He told Jack he had to go, and said, 'I'm about to do something big. Turn on your TV. You won't believe it, and you don't want to miss it.'"

During another point, Trump "stopped to watch" former NBA player Dennis Rodman praise the summit.

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"Rodman was complimentary of both the president and Kim and said that if anyone could make a deal, it was Donald Trump," she wrote. "It was bizarre to watch Rodman offer insights on such a serious topic, but he was one of the few people in the world who had a relationship with both Kim and President Trump. The president turned to me and said, 'Call Rodman and thank him.'"

Though many have criticized Trump on social media over the Kim joke, Sanders writes glowingly about the president and fires back at critics who called her out for lying behind the White House podium. Former special counsel Robert Mueller's report detailed five times that Sanders lied to reporters about the Russia investigation alone.

Despite Trump's attempts to woo Kim at the Singapore summit and subsequent meetings, U.S. intelligence has indicated that North Korea continued to expand its nuclear facilities and later called off nuclear talks despite Trump's brags that the two leaders have exchanged "beautiful letters."

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An upcoming book by journalist Bob Woodward reportedly includes "25 personal letters" between Trump and Kim, which the North Korean dictator described as "out of a 'fantasy film,'" according to the book's synopsis.

"They're great letters," Trump said at a rally in 2018. "We fell in love."

North Korean officials later said that although Kim "had good personal feelings" about Trump, the country would "never" agree to shut down nuclear facilities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

"Donald Trump 'embraces dictators and tyrants like Putin and Kim Jong Un' while alienating our closest allies. That is antithetical to who we are and it has to change," Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign said in a statement last year. "Trump has also been repeatedly tricked into making major concessions to the murderous regime in Pyongyang while getting nothing in return."


Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregation Donald Trump Joe Biden John Kelly Kim Jong-un North Korea Politics Sarah Sanders