President Trump told supporters on Saturday night that he and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “fell in love” in the process of setting up the failed peace summit the two leaders attended in Singapore earlier this year. Trump was in Wheeling, West Virginia, on Saturday night as part of his ongoing “I’m Really the Greatest President” campaign in the states where Republicans are trying to win elections. Somewhere the middle of his speech, after suggesting the U.S. had been on the brink of war with North Korea when he took office, Trump waxed nostalgic about how he and Kim exchanged threats to annihilate each other with nuclear weapons, then claimed it was Kim’s “beautiful letters” that turned everything around.
“We would go back and forth, and then we fell in love,” said Trump. “Okay? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. And we fell in love.”
The president also quickly said that the media would criticize him for declaring his love for Kim and call it unpresidential. “They’ll say ‘Donald Trump said they fell in love. How horrible! How horrible is that! So unpresidential.’ ”
The crowd laughed in response to Trump’s “love” line, though the comment was more self-aggrandizement than humor — he had also just informed supporters that he had prevented the deaths of millions, come up with a better foreign policy than President Obama or any other U.S. leader, and that anyone who says any different is lying. In reality, however, Trump’s North Korea summit has not, according to nonproliferation experts, done anything substantive to change Kim’s behavior (though it has succeeded in preventing Trump from making any more comments about the size of his nuclear button, an accomplishment which would probably put any other person in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize).
Even in half-jest, Trump’s comment was one of the more pronounced expressions of the admiration he feels for the world’s authoritarian leaders, and Kim is by far one of the most brutal.
ThinkProgress’s Aaron Rupar summarized many of the night’s other notable absurdities in this exhaustive Twitter thread. Regarding what is still the biggest ongoing story in U.S. politics, the imperiled Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, Trump largely echoed his previous comments in support of the judge. Kavanaugh’s allies are likely pleased with that outcome, particularly since the only things Kavanaugh could have done to better signal his inner Trump during Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing would have been to testify wearing a MAGA cap and offer dismissive comments on the physical looks of his accusers.
Trump did take the time, however, to ridicule the ranking Democrat, and senior woman, on the committee. He offered an uninspired impersonation of Senator Dianne Feinstein in order to imply she was lying when she said her office did not leak the confidential letter Kavanaugh’s primary accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, had written to her congresswoman about the assault earlier this year. (The journalist who got the original scoop confirmed on Thursday that Feinstein was telling the truth.)
“It’s so easy being presidential,” Trump said Saturday.