President Trump promised he wouldn’t allow the CIA to use spies against North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un after reports surfaced that Kim’s half brother had been a U.S. intelligence asset before he was assassinated in Malaysia.
Kim Jong Nam was killed in February 2017 — allegedly while he was en route to meet a CIA contact — by two women who sprayed a nerve agent in his face. U.S. officials quickly placed the blame for the killing on North Korea.
Trump, speaking to reporters on the White House lawn Tuesday before leaving on a campaign trip to Iowa, was asked about Kim Jong Nam’s spying, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t know, I have not heard about that,” the president said, before contradicting himself and assuring Kim Jong Un that his administration wouldn’t do anything so underhanded.
“I saw the information about the CIA with respect to his brother or half brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”
The president, as he has in the past, lavished praise on Kim and expressed gratitude for his friendship.
“I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un. I can’t show you the letter, obviously, but it was very personal, very warm, very nice letter,” Trump said.
“North Korea, under his leadership, has great potential,” Trump continued.
A deal to denuclearize North Korea has proven elusive to Trump, despite two high-profile summits with Kim. In February, Trump walked out of his second round of meetings with Kim without reaching an agreement. Still, Trump offered compliments to the dictator, calling their relationship “very strong” and describing Kim as “quite a guy and quite a character.”
Less than two months after the failed summit in Vietnam, North Korea resumed testing new weapons.
On Tuesday, Trump once again had far more negative things to say about Democratic political rival Joe Biden — who has been sharply critical of North Korea — than he did about Kim. While he described Kim as someone “who gets it,” he blasted Biden as “a dummy.”
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