President Donald Trump seemed to contradict his national security adviser Saturday, claiming he was unbothered by North Korea’s recent missile tests essentially because he trusts dictator Kim Jong Un. In a tweet while he was in Japan, Trump also espoused a view that is at odds with his host country. “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me.”
Japan had said that North Korea’s recent test of short range missiles amounted to a violation of United Nations resolutions. And Trump’s own national security adviser John Bolton agreed with that assessment, telling reporters on Saturday there was “no doubt” that the missile test violated Security Council resolutions.
Vipin Narang, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is an expert on nuclear proliferation and North Korea, said that Trump’s message was “disturbing” for one key reason. “There is a lot that is really disturbing here, but the most important bit is ‘Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me’,” Narang wrote. “Kim never promised to unilaterally disarm, and the problem is Trump continues to believe he did. THAT is why this is so dangerous.”
Trump also took the opportunity to mix a little domestic politics with a national security issue, although he misspelled the name of former vice president Joe Biden (he later deleted the tweet and reposted it with the spelling corrected). Trump says he “smiled” when Kim “called Swampman Joe Bidan (sic) a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?” With the words, Trump seemed to be referring to North Korean outlet KCNA that on Tuesday called Joe Biden a “fool of low IQ” after the former vice president called Kim a tyrant.
Trump also took some time from his foreign trip to blast a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam that blocked the use of Defense Department funds to build sections of the border wall. “Another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us on a section of the Southern Wall that is already under construction,” Trump wrote. “This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking. We are asking for an expedited appeal!”
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary and criticism you won’t find anywhere else. Join Slate Plus.Join Slate Plus