5 bizarre behind-the-scenes moments from the Trump-Kim summit
An impatient and bored President Trump nearly derailed his summit with Kim Jong Un before it even started, and now that it's over, he is angry there's not more enthusiasm for his dealmaking skills from Republican lawmakers, analysts, and experts. Those are a few of the behind-the-scenes details emerging from this week's extraordinary meeting between the leaders of the United States and North Korea.
1. Trump's aides had to talk him out of meeting Kim a day early
Trump arrived in Singapore on Sunday, and, "antsy and bored," he urged his aides to demand that Kim meet with him on Monday, instead of Tuesday morning, as carefully scheduled, The Washington Post reports. "We're here now," the president said, according to two people familiar with preparations for the summit. "Why can't we just do it?" Coupled with a tense preparatory meeting with North Korean negotiators, Trump's aides feared upending the schedule could sink the entire endeavor. "Ultimately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders persuaded Trump to stick with the original plan," the Post reports, in part by warning Trump "he might sacrifice wall-to-wall television coverage" because Monday in Singapore "would be Sunday night in the United States."
2. The North Koreans were like paranoid "aliens"
In Monday's preparatory meeting, Trump's team wanted to bring in an official photographer to capture the moment they agreed on the joint statement for posterity, but North Korean officials balked, an official tells The Associated Press. "How do we know she's not a spy?" they asked, before eventually relenting. At other points, they worried that press cameras could conceal weapons. Before Kim and Trump sat down to sign the final document, a latex-gloved North Korea official inspected Kim's chair and the pen — with Trump's signature on it in gold — set out for the signing. "At the last minute, Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, who was standing to his side, provided a pen of her own for his use," AP reports. Negotiating with the North Koreans was like talking with "aliens," U.S. officials said.
3. Trump was impressed with the loyalty of the North Korean TV anchors
After watching state-run North Korean television, Trump "talked about how positive the female North Korean news anchor was toward Kim," two people told the Post, and "he joked that even the administration-friendly Fox News was not as lavish in its praise as the state TV anchor, one of the people added, and that maybe she should get a job on U.S. television, instead." Trump was also reportedly impressed with how "tough" and stony-faced the North Korean guards appeared.
4. Trump really did have real estate on the mind
Trump told reporters after the summit that North Korea has "great beaches" and he told Kim he could "have the best hotels in the world right there. Think of it from a real estate perspective." Before meeting Kim, Trump privately mulled offering "an unusual olive branch" to the North Korean despot, suggesting "he might be able to orchestrate a meeting or proposal with some of his real estate developer and financier friends, who could bring lucrative development deals to Kim's country," the Post reports. "It is unclear whether he ended up mentioning the idea to Kim," but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested he might have been his "salesman" self. "He is selling condos, that's what he is doing," Graham told the Post. "He's approaching North Korea as a distressed property with a cash-flow problem. Here's how we can fix it."
5. Trump is irked that he's not getting more credit
Back in the White House, Trump is "chafing at the skepticism swirling about the nuclear accord that he wants to define his legacy," AP reports. He has been "fuming privately and publicly over the skeptical news coverage about his signed agreement with Kim. Never steeped in details or history, the president feels he has made ground-breaking progress. ... In a terrible mood, he is frustrated by all the questions about the fine print." It isn't just the media and experts Trump is angry with, AP says. He has been "calling lawmakers to express enthusiasm for the agreement — but also complaining that he has not had more robust support from GOP lawmakers," calling the summit a first step but also "arguing that he has already done more than his predecessor, President Barack Obama."