President Trump declared in a spur-of-the-moment interview with “Fox and Friends” Friday morning that he wants people to sit at attention for him like they do for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Kim stands accused of leading a murderous regime that starves its own people. But Mr. Trump has heaped praise on Kim since meeting with him in Singapore, saying repeatedly that the two have “good chemistry.”
“Hey, he is the head of a country and I mean he is the strong head,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Steve Doocy on the White House lawn Friday. “Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
Pressed by a reporter about those remarks moments later, Mr. Trump said he was “kidding.”
“I’m kidding, you don’t understand sarcasm,” the president said.
The spur-of-the-moment White House lawn interview was, in the memory of those present, unprecedented.
Mr. Trump was later asked how he can mourn the death of American Otto Warmbier, who was held hostage in North Korea, while defending Kim’s disastrous human rights record.
“I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family,” Mr. Trump said. “I want to have a good relationship with North Korea. I want to have a good relationship with many countries.”
Those comments come after a different Fox News interview earlier this week, when the president also downplayed Kim’s human rights record.
“You know you call people sometimes killers, he is a killer. He’s clearly executing people,” Fox News’ Bret Baier told Mr. Trump.
“He’s a tough guy,” the president responded.
“Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have,” the president continued. “If you can do that at 27 years old, I mean that’s one in 10,000 that could do that. So he’s a very smart guy, he’s a great negotiator. But I think we understand each other.”
Baier paused, before pressing, “But he’s still done some really bad things.”
Mr. Trump downplayed Kim’s actions, suggesting Kim isn’t alone in that.
“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things,” Mr. Trump said. “I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done. Now look, with all of that being said, the answer is yes.”
Mr. Trump on Friday also said Michael Cohen is no longer his lawyer, although he didn’t elaborate on that much.
“No, he’s not my lawyer, anymore,” he said.
On Friday, Mr. Trump also called the Department of Justice Inspector General report examining the FBI’s approach to the Hillary Clinton email investigation a “horror show.” Mr. Trump made the comments when he decided to walk onto the White House setup of “Fox and Friends,” after announcing on Twitter that he might do so.
“Wow, the highest rated (by far) morning show, @foxandfriends, is on the Front Lawn of the White House. Maybe I’ll have to take an unannounced trip down to see them?” Mr. Trump tweeted early Friday morning.
This is a developing story and will be updated.