Trump angrily rejected the CIA considering Kim Jong Un ‘stupid’, insisting he knows best because of their ‘chemistry’

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Trump, Kim Jong Un
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on June 30, 2019.

  • Bob Woodward released new tapes of his conversations with Donald Trump. 
  • In them, Trump rejects a CIA assessment that Kim Jong Un is  “ultimately stupid.” 
  • Trump has long spoken highly of Kim, and insisted he has a special ability to appraise US enemies.

Former President Donald Trump rejected a CIA characterization that Kim Jong Un is “stupid,” insisting his “chemistry” with the dictator gave him a better understanding, new tapes show. 

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward released new audio of the interviews he mostly conducted with Trump while he was still in the White House.

In the conversations, the former president boasts of his warm relationships with authoritarian foreign leaders including Kim, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

In one exchange, Woodward questioned Trump about his relations with Kim, who is leader of one of the world’s most repressive and brutal regimes and has menaced the US and its allies with the prospect of nuclear attacks. 

“The CIA says about Kim Jong Un that he’s ‘cunning, crafty but ultimately stupid’,” Woodward said in the exchange. 

Trump replied: “I disagree. He’s cunning. He’s crafty. And he’s very smart. You know.”

“Why does the CIA say that?” Woodward countered. 

“Because they don’t know. Okay? Because they don’t know. They have no idea. I’m the only one that knows. I’m the only one he deals with. He won’t deal with anybody else,” Trump said, and went on to describe his personal connection with Kim. 

“The word chemistry. You meet somebody and you have a good chemistry.”

Trump compared the relationship to a romance, saying “You meet a woman. In one second you know whether or not it’s all going to happen.”

Trump has long praised authoritarian leaders, and seemed to highly prize the personal bond with them while president of the world’s most powerful democracy.

He would often value insights gained through personal “chemistry” with other leaders above the assessments of experts and officials as part of his transactional leadership style. 

As president he boasted of “love letters” he exchanged with Kim, and organised a high-profile summits from which the US gained few diplomatic concessions, and which were derided by critics as press stunts. 

His relationship with Kim has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks, after it was revealed that his letters with Kim were among the government documents Trump took with him after leaving office in a possible violation of federal laws.

He even seemed to admit to Woodward in one conversation that taking the letters may have been illegal. 

Woodward recorded the tapes in 2019 and 2020 as he was researching  his 2020 book “Rage.” He compiled the recordings as an audiobook called “The Trump Tapes” which is going on sale Tuesday.

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