Trump heaps praise on 'tough guy' Kim Jong Un

Donald Trump has a soft spot for strongmen.

The president praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a Wednesday interview, calling the head of the totalitarian regime a “smart guy” and a “great negotiator.”

“He’s a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have, if you could do that at 27 years old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that,” Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “So he’s a very smart guy, he’s a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.”

After North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died in 2011, his son, Jong Un, was named the head of the nation and went on to purge other family members from the party. Jong Un is widely suspected of killing of his half-brother.

When Baier pointed out some of the unsavory things Jong Un is accused of doing in North Korea, Trump demurred.

“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things,” Trump said. “I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”

With the president offering North Korea several concessions at the Singapore summit with Kim, including the cessation of military-preparedness training with the South Koreans and the possible removal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, critics of the administration say the U.S. is giving China exactly what it wants. Baier pressed that point with Trump in Wednesday’s interview.

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U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un leave after signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un after they signed documents that acknowledged the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Anthony Wallace/Pool via Reuters TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend a signing ceremony during a summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Anthony Wallace/Pool via Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during the signing of a document after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Susan Walsh/Pool via Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un react during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Anthony Wallace/Pool via Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un look at each others before signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. They are flanked by Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk in the Capella Hotel after their working lunch, on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Susan Walsh/Pool via Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
U.S. President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un react at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures next to North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before their bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
TOPSHOT - Pedestrians walk in front of a screen showing a news report displaying portraits of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Tokyo on June 12, 2018. - Trump and Kim have become on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
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“No, I think China would really like to see no nuclear weapons, you want to know the truth, because look, whether you’re semi-friendly with a nation or not, when they have nuclear weapons and you’re that close, that can’t be a positive feeling,” Trump said. “It just can’t be. So China’s been very helpful. I think over the last two months, maybe less so. I think the border got a little more open. Now, it didn’t affect today’s negotiation, but I think the border opened up a little bit more because China could be a little bit upset about trade because we’re very strongly clamping down on trade.”

Trump then pivoted to fondness for China’s leader.

“I have a very strong relationship with President Xi of China. He’s an incredible guy,” Trump said. “They just, essentially president for life, that’s pretty good.”

Rounding out Trump’s positive appraisal of leaders with a tight grip on power, the president was asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and his call to reinstate Russia into the G-7 alliance.

“I’m not for Russia, I’m for the United States,” Trump said. “But as an example, if Vladimir Putin were sitting next to me at a table instead of one of the others, and we were having dinner the other night in Canada, I could say ‘Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Syria? Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of the Ukraine, get out of Ukraine, you shouldn’t be there? Just come on. Now, I think I’d probably have a good relationship with him or I’d be able to talk to him better than if you call somebody on a telephone and talk. If I’m sitting like I was with the others, for instance the new prime minister of Italy. He is a great guy, we had a great relationship. He agrees with me on Putin by the way.”

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