Trump on North Korea's Kim Jong Un: 'He's a pretty smart cookie'

President Donald Trump labeled brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un "a pretty smart cookie" in a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday.

"At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie," Trump told CBS News in an interview on "Face the Nation."

"But we have a situation that we just cannot let — we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue," he added.

The interview, conducted Saturday, comes a day after North Korea test-launched what U.S. officials said was a short-range ballistic missile, a test prohibited by United Nations sanctions. The missile blew up shortly after launching, officials said.

Trump praised his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping as "very good" and rebuffed criticism over backing down from his oft-repeated campaign-trail promise to label China a "currency manipulator.

Trump reiterated in the Sunday interview that he believed China had stopped manipulating its currency, and stressed the importance of working with the nation over the threat of North Korea.

"I believe that President Xi is working to try and resolve a very big problem, for China also," Trump said, adding, "And that's North Korea. Can you imagine if I say, 'Hey, by the way, how are you doing with North Korea? Also, we're going to announce that you're a currency manipulator tomorrow.'"

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Everything you didn't know about Kim Jong Un
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Everything you didn't know about Kim Jong Un

1. While Kim Jong Un's birthday on January 8 is a national holiday, it is unknown exactly how old the North Korean leader is. It's widely believed he is in his early-mid thirties. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department listed his birth year as 1984 when they placed sanctions on North Korea.

 (KCNA via REUTERS)

2. Kim Jong Un is the world's youngest leader, according to the date listed by the Treasury. 

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

3. Kim Jong Un is very passionate about basketball. He is reportedly a big fan of Michael Jordan and has a friendly relationship with Jordan's former Chicago Bulls teammate Dennis Rodman. Rodman has visited the secluded nation multiple times and even sang him "Happy Birthday" before an exhibition game in Jan. 2014. 

(REUTERS/KCNA)

4. Kim Jong Un reportedly has a love for smoking, whiskey and cheese

(KCNA/via Reuters)

5. Kim Jong Un's older half-brother Kim Jong Nam was killed in Feb. 2017 by two women who smeared VX nerve agent on his face at an airport in Kuala Lumpur. The women were arrested following his death. Many believe the hit was directed by North Korea. 

(KCNA; REUTERS)

6. Kim Jong Un has two college degrees. One is in physics from Kim il Sung University and another as an Army officer obtained from the Kim Il Sung Military University.

(KCNA/REUTERS)

7. Kim Jong Un attended boarding school in Switzerland. It is widely disputed how much time he spent at the school. Most reports say he was abroad from 1998-2000. 

(KCNA/REUTERS)

8. Kim Jong Un is the only general in the world that does not have any military experience. 

(KCNA/REUTERS)

9. He married Ri Sol Ju in 2009. The couple has at least one daughter named Ju Ae. 

(KCNA/REUTERS)

10. Kim Jong Un had his uncle Jang Song Thaek arrested and executed for treachery in 2013. 

(REUTERS/Kyodo)

11. Kim Jong Un hand selected North Korea's first all-female music group -- Moranbong Band. They made their debut in 2012. 

(ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

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Related: National Security Chief Tells S. Korea U.S. to Pay for Antimissile System: Official

Trump later added that the issue of North Korea was "maybe more important than trade."

"Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade," he said.

But Trump then questioned whether China could have potentially had a hand in meddling with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, despite U.S. intelligence agencies saying they believe the Russian government was involved in a covert campaign to attempt to influence the election.

"Knowing something about hacking, if you don't catch a hacker, okay, in the act, it's very hard to say who did the hacking," he said. "With that being said, I'll go along with Russia. Could've been China, could've been a lot of different groups."

Related: Trump Warns of Possible 'Major, Major Conflict' With North Korea

Trump then added that "we have to find out what happened," and that he and his campaign "had nothing to do" with any potential election meddling.

Committees in both houses of Congress are currently investigating Moscow's involvement in the election as well as links between Russia and various Trump allies.

And as Trump marked his 100th day in office, he said he was "thoroughly enjoying" the job, and that while it was tough, he claims he's had jobs that were tougher.

"Well, it's a tough job. But I've had a lot of tough jobs. I've had things that were tougher, although I'll let you know that better at the end of eight years," he said.

Before becoming president of the United States, Trump was a real estate developer for most of his career after joining his father's company out of college, with stints as reality-TV star, sports-league owner, and writer. He is also in the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame.

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