The Slatest

Former Obama Staffers Say Trump Is Lying About Efforts to Meet With North Korea’s Kim

President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea.
President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

President Donald Trump claimed that his predecessor was repeatedly rebuffed after “begging” for a meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. But officials who were part of President Barack Obama’s administration insist this is merely the latest lie by the commander in chief. “President Obama wanted to meet, and Chairman Kim would not meet him,” Trump said at a news conference in South Korea. “The Obama administration was begging for a meeting. They were begging for meetings constantly. And Chairman Kim would not meet with him.” It didn’t take long for two former officials to come forward and say that was flat out false.

Ben Rhodes, who served as Obama’s deputy national security adviser took to Twitter to contradict Trump. “Trump is lying,” Rhodes wrote. “Obama never sought a meeting with Kim Jong Un. Foreign policy isn’t reality television it’s reality.” Rhodes went on to call Trump’s foreign policy a “a failure,” adding that “photo ops don’t get rid of nuclear weapons, carefully negotiated agreements do.”

Rhodes wasn’t alone. James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, also dismissed the claim during a television interview Sunday. “I don’t know where he’s getting that,” Clapper said. “In all the deliberations that I participated in on North Korea during the Obama administration, I can recall no instance whatever where President Obama ever indicated any interest whatsoever in meeting with Chairman Kim,” Clapper said on CNN’s State of the Union. “That’s news to me.” Even though Clapper acknowledged that it was “historic” for Trump to be the first sitting U.S. president to step on North Korean soil, he said it was unlikely to amount to a breakthrough in stalled negotiations.