Donald Trump has a history of claiming and publicly wishing for great relationships with world leaders. In 2013, he mused on Twitter that Vladimir Putin could be his “new best friend,” and in November 2017, he tweeted of Kim Jong-un, “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, the president continued this trend and in the transcript, he seems to have slipped up and claimed to already have a “very good relationship” with the North Korean leader. Here’s the relevant transcript portion, which contains the paper’s skeptical followup and Trump’s continued bragging on making people his “best friend”:
Trump: President Xi has been extremely generous with what he’s said, I like him a lot. I have a great relationship with him, as you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea … I have relationships with people, I think you people are surprised.
WSJ: Just to be clear, you haven’t spoken to the North Korean leader, I mean when you say a relationship with Korea–
Trump: I don’t want to comment on it-I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t. But I just don’t–
WSJ: Some people would see your tweets, which are sometimes combative towards Kim Jong Un…
Trump: Sure, you see that a lot with me and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.
Truly, it sounds like Trump got carried away and didn’t gauge that the difference between “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un” and “I’d probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un” would even matter. Yet people noticed, and after some rumblings from the White House on Saturday night, the WSJ tweeted audio of the conversation to prove that their transcript was accurate.
Two minutes later, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also tweeted audio footage: “Here is the official audio showing WSJ misquoting @POTUS.”
And on Sunday morning, Trump officially weighed in. “The Wall Street Journal stated falsely that I said to them ‘I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un’ (of N. Korea),” he tweeted. “Obviously I didn’t say that. I said ‘I’d have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un,’ a big difference. Fortunately we now record conversations with reporters…”
He then tweeted a few more times (including a retweet of one of his Saturday tweets) about “FAKE NEWS!” The president also called author Michael Wolff “mentally deranged” and accused the press of being upset that he won the election.
(Via Wall Street Journal)