US President Donald Trump was taken in by the flattery of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who reportedly spoke openly about killing his uncle, according to a new book by Watergate journalist Bob Woodward.
The forthcoming book, titled Rage, is the second to be penned by the famous journalist during Mr Trump’s time in office and contains a number of revealing exchanges between the US president and the North Korean dictator.
According to excerpts detailed in The Washington Post, Mr Trump bragged that Kim “tells me everything”.
That reportedly included a “graphic” account of the dictator having his uncle killed.
In 2014, reports from the Hermit Kingdom claimed the uncle, and his entire family, were brutally executed in an attempt to "clamp down on mutiny". The leader’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was reportedly executed by a firing squad of anti-aircraft guns.
Mr Woodward said the president appeared taken in by the flattery Kim lavished on him, referring to the US leader as “Excellency” and calling him “a powerful and preeminent statesman”.
Kim refers to meeting with Trump as like ‘scene from fantasy film’
The book includes the first reported excerpts of letters Mr Trump exchanged with the North Korean dictator.
In one letter, Kim reflected on one of their meetings writing: “another historic meeting between myself and Your Excellency reminiscent of a scene from a fantasy film.”
He referred to the face-to-face time they shared as a “special memory” and later wrote the “deep and special friendship between us will work as a magical force.”
In one letter he reminisced about firmly holding the hand of “Your Excellency” while the world watched.
In one exchange, Mr Trump sent a copy of The New York Times with a picture of the pair on the front, writing on it with marker: “Chairman, great picture of you, big time.”
Reflecting on his affinity for authoritarians, Mr Trump admitted: “the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them”.
The president brushed off advice from his own intelligence services suggesting North Korea were unlikely to walk away from their nuclear weapons testing.
“I met. Big f***ing deal,” the president told Mr Woodward, in response to criticism of his three face-to-face meetings with Kim. “It takes me two days. I met. I gave up nothing.”
Experts slammed the meetings for giving legitimacy to the North Korean regime and its ruthless leadership. Mr Trump also agreed to scale back joint military exercises with South Korea – something that would have pleased the North Koreans.
Mr Trump likened Kim Jong-Un’s attachment to his nuclear program to a tricky real estate sale.
“It’s really like, you know, somebody that’s in love with a house and they just can’t sell it.”
The excerpts suggest the interview was characteristically disjointed but also unusually candid on certain topics, including Mr Trump acknowledging the deadliness of the novel coronavirus but saying he wanted to downplay it publicly.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden responded to revelations included in the book by saying Mr Trump “failed to do his job on purpose.”
“He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people,” said an animated Mr Biden during a speech in Michigan. “He knew how dangerous it was. He failed to do his job on purpose.
“It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.”
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