Once Again, Trump Becomes An Apologist For A Dictator

Once again, President Trump proves that in the face of evil he is a coward and a disgrace.

Near the conclusion of his press conference in Hanoi after the abrupt end of the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Trump was asked whether he discussed the case of Otto Warmbier, an American who had been held for seventeen months by North Korea before being returned to the United States in what essentially was a comatose state only to die several days later. In response, Trump absolved Kim Jong Un of any responsibility for the matter based, seemingly solely, on the fact that Kim denied knowing anything about it:

HANOI — President Trump on Thursday defended North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, whose family says he was “brutally tortured” while imprisoned in North Korea and died in 2017 after being flown back to United States in a coma.

The president condemned the “brutality of the North Korean regime” following Warmbier’s death at 22, but he took a softer stance toward Kim at the conclusion of their second summit.

“I don’t believe he would have allowed that to happen,” Trump said. “It just wasn’t to his advantage to allow that to happen.”

Trump said that he spoke to Kim about the death of Warmbier — whose family has called it a murder — and that Kim “feels badly about it.” He said the North Korea leader, who rules the country with an iron grip, knew about the case but learned about it only after the fact because, Trump suggested, “top leadership” might not have been involved.

“He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word,” Trump said.

Richard Cullen, the attorney for Fred and Cindy Warmbier, who in December won a $501 million judgment against North Korea for the death of their son, said the couple probably will not say anything publicly about the president’s comment.


Trump’s remarks about Warmbier and Kim drew bipartisan criticism. Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, said that Trump’s acceptance of Kim’s denial of responsibility was “reprehensible.”

“He gave cover, as you said, to a leader who knew very well what was going on with Otto Warmbier,” said Santorum on CNN, adding, “I am disappointed, to say the least, that he did it.”

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted that Trump’s remark was “detestable.”

“Walking away from the summit was better than making a bad deal,” he wrote in a Thursday morning post. “It’s also the result of a poorly planned strategy. But accepting Kim’s denial of involvement in Warmbier’s death? Detestable, and harkens back to Trump’s duplicitous acceptances of denials from other dictators.”

Warmbier, a University of Virginia student from Ohio, was detained in Pyongyang after participating in an organized tour in December 2015 and was held for 17 months, after being charged with spying for the United States and being coerced into making an on-camera confession. His parents have stated that all the charges against him were untrue. Warmbier returned to his hometown of Cincinnati in a coma and died a few days later.

Trump said at the time that he was incensed by the death. He forged a relationship with the Warmbier family, even meeting with them in the Oval Office, and introduced them to a rousing ovation at his 2018 State of the Union address.

“We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat,” he said, with Warmbier’s tearful family looking on as he described the regime’s grisly actions.

Fred Warmbier accompanied Vice President Pence as part of the U.S. delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, in February 2018.

In a statement announcing a lawsuit against the government of North Korea in April 2018, Warmbier said his son was “taken hostage, kept as a prisoner for political purposes, used as a pawn and singled out for exceptionally harsh and brutal treatment by Kim Jong Un. Kim and his regime have portrayed themselves as innocent, while they intentionally destroyed our son’s life.”

Not surprisingly, Trump’s comments were not well-received on Capitol Hill, with even many top Republicans speaking out against him:

Republican senators were steaming Thursday over President Trump’s vehement defense of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s role in the death of American college student Otto Warmbier.

Trump’s statement that he believed Kim when he said he didn’t know at the time of Warmbier’s treatment left a number of GOP senators upset.

“I personally find that statement extremely hard to believe,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who represents Warmbier’s home state, warned the president not to be “naive” about the “brutal nature” of the North Korean regime in a speech on the Senate floor.

“I want to make clear that we can never forget about Otto. His treatment at the hands of his captors was unforgivable and it tells us a lot about the nature of the regime,” said Portman, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

“We can’t be naive about what they did to Otto, about the brutal nature of the regime that would do this to an American citizen,” he warned.

Portman later told The Hill that Kim and his lieutenants are “human rights violators across the board” and said it’s likely that Kim knew about Warmbier’s status.

“I can’t tell you specifically who was knowledgeable of it but I would assume it goes straight to the top,” he added.


Portman noted in his floor speech that North Korean officials failed to tell Warmbier’s family or American officials about his health status during 15 months of negotiations over the American’s release.

“Who did the North Korean government tell about the fact that he had this brain damage? No one. Unbelievably for the next 15 months of his life they kept this a secret,” Portman said on the floor. “They denied him access to the best medical care he deserved, which of course we would have provided.”

And, after initially choosing to remain silent, Warmbier’s family spoke out on Friday morning:

The parents of Otto Warmbier issued a blistering statement on Friday saying Kim Jong Un and his government “are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity” after President Donald Trump asserted that the North Korean dictator had been unaware of the harrowing treatment the student endured while detained there.

“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement. “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”

Warmbier was arrested for taking a propaganda banner from a hotel while on a visit to Pyongyang in January 2016. The University of Virginia student from Ohio was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, but was released after 17 months.

Warmbier, 22, died shortly after he returned to the U.S.

Trump’s statement is, of course, fundamentally absurd. From the moment Warmbier came home, it was obvious that his condition was due to something that had happened to him at the hands of his North Korean captors. Most likely that he was either beaten to the point where he was injured beyond the point of recovery or he was experimented on medically and injected with drugs that put him into a comatose state that North Korean doctors could not get him out of before his return to the United States. Whatever the cause, though, it’s simply implausible to believe that what happened to him was not due to actions and/or omissions on the part of the North Koreans and it is equally implausible to believe that Kim Jong Un would not have any knowledge at all about what happened. Notwithstanding this, and notwithstanding the assessment of American doctors and American intelligence agencies that the Kim regime was indeed responsible, though, President Trump stood up in front of a group of reporters at the conclusion of the summit and accepted the word of a ruthless dictator who has sent tens of thousands of people to prison for phony crimes because they challenged the power of the state somehow, killed family members and political rivals in all kinds of brutal and horrible ways, and had his own half-brother killed as he walked through a busy airport in Malaysia over common sense and logic.

This isn’t the first time that the President has dismissed atrocious behavior by dictators, of course. During the campaign, Trump was asked several times why he was so obsequious in his praise for Vladimir Putin given the reports about how he has had political opponents and reporters murdered. In response, Trump dismissed the question and essentially said that we’ve done worse things than Putin has been accused of in the past. Last year, at the conclusion of his summit in Helskini during a joint news conference the President said that Putin had denied that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections and that he accepted that denial. Of course, that denial flies in the face of the evidence uncovered by all of America’s top intelligence officials and by the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has already indicted two separate groups of Russian officials, companies, and government agencies in indictments handed down last February and again later in the year. In addition to Putin, Trump has also rejected the conclusions of intelligence agencies regarding the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and accepted the utterly implausible explanation for Khashoggi’s death offered by the Saudi government. He has repeatedly brushed aside questions regarding the human rights records of people such as President el-Sisi of Egypt and President Duerte of The Philippines. With regard to Kim Jong Un, the President has specifically dismissed concerns about North Korea’s human record, which is, of course, consistently among the worst in the world. Therefore, the fact that he’s now absolving Kim of responsibility for the death of Otto Warmbier should surprise nobody because it is consistent with his long-standing habit of cozying up to dictators while spitting in the face of long-standing democratic allies. The lesson could not be clearer, Trump stands up for these dictators because he believes he has more in common with them than he does people like Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Marcon, Theresa May, or Justin Trudeau. If nothing else, it speaks volumes about just how perverted his values are.

As I said last year when it comes to confronting dictators Donald Trump is a coward and a disgrace:

Instead of condemning and ostracizing dictators who mistreat their citizens, we have a President who condemns and ostracizes the leaders of our most important democratic allies while trashing alliances such as NATO and the G-7 that have helped to spread shared values throughout the world. Instead of speaking out when human rights are violated, we have a President who clearly favors close relationships with men who have authorized the kidnapping and murder of people who have done nothing more than dissent from the leadership of their country and dream of a day when their own countries might recognize the rights that we have come to take for granted. Instead of a President who hails the values that this country stands for, we have a President who repeatedly attacks the free press and undermines the Rule of Law while simultaneously sending a message to the dictators of the world that the new United States will remain silent when they violate the rights of their citizens. Instead of Ronald Reagan’s shining city on a hill that sends a message of freedom and liberty around the world, we have Donald Trump’s Fortress America that basically tells the oppressed people of the world that the United States will do nothing, not even offer words of condemnation, when they are victimized by the men claiming to be their leaders. Over the course of just twenty-odd months, this President has destroyed everything this country was supposed to stand for and damaged our reputation on the world stage. And he’s not done.

The case of Otto Warmbier is just a continuation on this theme, and once again this President has beclowned himself and embarrassed this country.



FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, North Korea, Politicians, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. reid says:

    And his cult followers bend over backwards to excuse and ignore it. For the thousandth time. Good thing the president wasn’t born with the last name “Obama”, they really don’t like that one.

  2. It really is disgraceful behavior.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump is human garbage.

  4. reid says:

    Trump is an idiot, but I have to give him credit for knowing that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his followers would still love him. I don’t think I realized at the time (during the campaign, I think) how right he was. This has been a disturbing social experiment on a grand scale (and perhaps orchestrated from Moscow).

  5. KM says:

    And yet if you ask a MAGAt, they’ll insist Trump’s totally an Alpha who bows to no one. The truth is Trump’s follower and instinctively kisses up to those he thinks are badass. He *loves* that dictators like Putin and Kim can do *anything* they want with little to no repercussions and wants that with all his soul. Seriously, there but the grace of God go we if Trump were handed the same level of unfettered power as those men were. He’ll side with them every time just like his cultists do for him – admiration for the man and what he represents overriding any and all qualms or standards. Even when he was talking tough he did so because he wanted to emulate them – trying to match Kim’s tone and drama.

    You can’t ask a toadie to tell the truth – it goes against their fundamental natural instincts. Trump doesn’t care what Kim did and he won’t care what Kim does in the future. He’ll take his side, dismiss or downplay any atrocity and ignore what the rest of the world is saying. It’s all about him and what he can gain. I seriously cannot wait for the day he’s no longer President and eagerly reaches out to these contacts to cash in…. only to find nobody’s returning his calls because he’s worthless to them.

  6. mattbernius says:

    Something, something “apology tour”… Something, something “bowing to dictators”…

  7. reid says:

    @KM: I also think a big part of what we’re seeing is that Trump highly values interpersonal relationships. He also puts people into either a friends or enemies bucket, depending on if they’re nice to him. Hitler (sorry) could walk up to him and, as long as he complimented Trump and seemed friendly, Trump would have nice things to say about him. It overrides any other concern. Maybe he’s too dumb to process it all into a bigger picture.

  8. just nutha says:

    Trump is human garbage.

    Whose approval among Republicans stands at 89% for the last available week (Feb 10, 2019) of the Gallup poll on this question.

  9. CSK says:

    The very few Trumpkins who aren’t elaborately ignoring this disgraceful episode are falling back on the old Trump-is-playing-64-dimensional-chess explanation.

  10. Kathy says:

    I’m surprised neither Trump nor his base have dismissed Warmbier as a Democrat.

    That aside, lots of US presidents, real ones, have dismissed atrocious acts by dictators who were on their side. See Pinochet, various governments in El Salvador, the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein before 1991, etc. Yet they managed to at least half-heartedly press them on human rights (knowing they’d do nothing, of course), and not to suck up to them publicly.

    What makes Trump even worse, is that Kim is not even on his side.

  11. James Pearce says:

    Utterly disgusting, not only Trump’s reaction, but I know people who slammed Obama for not invading Pyongyang when Warmbier was convicted to 15 years hard labor for stealing a poster and they have nothing to say about Trump’s betrayal.

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Kim played him for a fool, and Dennison is so stupid…he doesn’t even realize it.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:


  14. Paine says:

    Rick Wilson remarked on Bill Maher’s show that Trump has a single metric that overrides all other considerations: Does the person like me? Kim shook his hand, sent him an over-sized letter, and gave Trump a nice photo op, which means he’s a stand-up guy in Trump’s eyes.

    It’s a disgusting display by an American president*. The Norks are one of the most brutal regimes on the planet and this notion that Kim had no idea what was happening to an American citizen is laughable.

    And the MAGAts are out there sticking up for KIm and Trump, which shows just how far these people have fallen. It truly is a cult and the cult leader can do no wrong.

  15. Jen says:

    I mean, it’s common practice in restrictive, brutal, and repressive regimes for random officers to just do whatever they like, without any direction from above, right?

    Especially when it comes to capturing, imprisoning, and torturing an American citizen, commonly used for leverage in negotiations–I mean, Kim wouldn’t have had any idea.

    /sarcasm, because Poe’s Law now governs our days.

  16. KM says:

    @reid: @paine:
    The offical term for it is External Validation Model of Self-Esteem, meaning that an individual only values themselves as others do and needs someone else to tell them they”good” or “worthy” or “likable”. They generally cannot self-validate or judge their own internal awareness but *must* get positive input from others. It’s the difference between “I think I can do this” vs “Tell me I’m pretty”

    The problem with that is Trump is so desperate for validation he can’t or won’t make a distinction when someone is clearly faking liking him. Most people are able to tell the difference between real and fake affection – it’s been scientifically proven a false smile is measurably different then a real one in terms of shape and muscle movements for instance. Individuals with a compulsive need for personal validation will often ignore those signs solely to pretend and get their fix. They stay in bad relationships and make bad choices because of their need and are incredibly manipulable by anyone who understand their psychology. It’s a really bad trait to have in the President…..

  17. SC_Birdflyte says:

    The schadenfreude is almost choking me, but I did get a good belly laugh at watching Agent Orange get rolled by an adversary half his age.

  18. Teve says:

    The last time Trump had a meeting with North Korea he gave up military exercises with South Korea without even discussing it with South Korea or the military. If he got out of this meeting with just nothing, we should consider it a victory.

  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Dennison now says his comment re Warmbier was mis-interpreted.

  20. Pylon says:


    Rick Wilson remarked on Bill Maher’s show that Trump has a single metric that overrides all other considerations: Does the person like me? Kim shook his hand, sent him an over-sized letter, and gave Trump a nice photo op, which means he’s a stand-up guy in Trump’s eyes.

    Of course, Kim doesn’t actually like him.


  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Can we all just agree that Dennison would praise Hitler if he were still alive?

  22. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Jesus Christ. When this corrupt idiot clown is defeated in 20 months I’m throwing an enormous party.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    It’s an accepted norm in America that we blame the politicians but never the people that elected him. I call BS. There are always moral degenerates like Trump that float around the fringes in any era. But it is Republicans and Conservatives that elected Trump and continue to support him. If someone falls into those categories you should be suspicious. And if you find out they actively support Trump you should not trust them to honor a promise or a business deal.

  24. CSK says:

    Trump’s most recent Tweet:

    “I love Otto and think of him often.”

  25. SenyorDave says:

    @CSK: “I love Otto and think of him often.”

    I was going to make a crack that Trump was talking about Otto Von Bismark, but I realized that Trump almost certainly would not know who he was. If he has heard of him, he probably thinks he is still alive.

  26. CSK says:


    Somehow I don’t think Otto’s parents will be much placated by this comment.

  27. Joe says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I appreciate you not actually comparing him to Hitler. Much subtler play here.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    I dare any of the Trump Toadies around here to defend this…can they? Of course they can’t…

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    a false smile is measurably different then a real one

    Is there any data on the question of people who can’t recognize genuine affection also not being able to show genuine affection.
    It would help explain the “I eat kittens for breakfast” expression so many of his photos have

  30. mike shupp says:

    @An Interested Party: I dare any of the Trump Toadies around here to defend this…

    I’d prefer not being thought of a “Trump Toady”, thank you. However … It’s not very likely that Donald Trump gets day-to-day counts of the would-be immigrants held in detention by ICE or in camps down by the Mexican border, and it’s even less likely that he gets detailed accounts of their health and well being. Kim has got a massive number of people locked up in his prison camps and, again, he probably doesn’t bother with detailed briefings about their status. So Kim’s in a position to say of Warmbier, “I don’t know anything about that” or “I never heard about that” or “No one told me he was ill.” And Donald is just fine with that.

    Yeah, Trump might have shouted, “He’s one of ours dammit, and you should have paid attention, and better yet you should never have locked him up for one tiny offense in the first place, and beyond that the whole world is appalled by your miserable stinking excuse of a justice system, how dare you regard your country as a civilized nation?” But that wouldn’t be Donald.

  31. Moosebreath says:

    @mike shupp:

    That explanation likely holds true for the period before Warmbier got seriously injured. On the other hand, when his aides told Kim that they needed to release an American who is comatose and not likely to survive the next week, I think Kim may have asked for an explanation.

  32. mike shupp says:


    Excellent point.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    I’d prefer not being thought of a “Trump Toady”, thank you.

    At this point, how can anyone continue to defend this disgrace without being a toady, an opportunist, or someone who has no grasp of reality…

    But that wouldn’t be Donald.

    Indeed…he’s much more likely to cozy up to dictators rather than chastise them…he saves the latter treatment for democratically-elected heads of government/state…

  34. An Interested Party says:

    Why did Obama leave him there?


    And to all you experts that know how to be a USA President and deal with nukes, go run for office.

    One need not be an expert on foreign policy to realize that Trump is an idiot and a failure as president…I guess you must be one of those toadies…or perhaps you are someone who has no grasp of reality…

  35. An Interested Party says:

    Yes Otto, the one Barry left to die and President Trump brought home.

    Ahh, no wonder I didn’t realize who you were talking about…to brag that Trump brought him home while Trump claims that he believes Kim knew nothing about the situation? Really? Funny how Warmbier’s parents don’t hold the same high regard for Trump that you do…

    Call us names now.

    No problem…you appear to be a toady and someone who has no grasp reality…

  36. Eric Florack says:

    The Warmbier situation, tragic as it is, and as important as it is, pales in comparison to the prospects of denuclearizing North Korea, particularly when you consider the amount of lives that would be saved by that.

    How far would you go for the one individual? Would you like it better if Trump’s had declared war on North Korea and invaded the place? I mean, what precisely are your limits, here?

    There is a delicate negotiation going on here and brinkmanship is the coin of that realm. It’s not pretty, but it’s called reality.

    Had Trump gone to the mat on this one, and spoiled the delicate negotiations that have been going on, it would have provided you one more opportunity to call Trump a failure.

    Given some of the comments here I can’t help but believe that that’s precisely what you’re after.

  37. MarkedMan says:

    @Eric Florack: Delicate negotiations? I think it is mildly funny that you of all people can’t see Trump for what he really is, because basically he is the living embodiment of every negative stereotype he (and you) hold about black and brown people. He’s lazy and unable control his sexual urges. He struts around all puffed up telling wild stories about his supposed brilliant successes that everyone but his buffoonish friends/supporters recognize for the ridiculous lies they are. I could go on but it is depressing and tedious. Suffice it to say that you and your fellow Trumpers have managed to elect the perfect racist stereotype of the middle aged, paunchy black man, except his skin is actually white.

  38. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: ” Would you like it better if Trump’s had declared war on North Korea and invaded the place? ”

    Yes, because the only two possible options were to publicly absolve Kim of any responsibility of the death while kissing his ass or to declare war and invade.

    Says the man who claims to have a greater understanding of delicate negotiations than anyone else around.

  39. Eric Florack says:

    You’re going to have to do a little better than “orange man bad”

  40. Eric Florack says:

    @wr: the point of the statement was to raise the question exactly what your limits are here.

    So, tell us.

    And by the way don’t tell me about how it’s an unattainable goal, because a couple of years ago bringing Kim to the table her negotiations was an unattainable goal or so Obama told us.

  41. Kathy says:

    @mike shupp:

    It’s not very likely that Donald Trump gets day-to-day counts of the would-be immigrants held in detention by ICE or in camps down by the Mexican border, and it’s even less likely that he gets detailed accounts of their health and well being. Kim has got a massive number of people locked up in his prison camps and, again, he probably doesn’t bother with detailed briefings about their status.

    False analogy. There are thousands and thousands of immigrants in the US, but only a handful of Americans detained by the Kim regime. He can easily keep up by numbers alone. further, these Americans are useful in extracting concessions in return for setting them free, so they’re valuable. Therefore Kim would be interested in them.

    But in the first place, the treatment and housing of all these people, both in the US and North Korea, is a matter of government policy. And in both cases, those policies are set by each country’s head of state. So Kim has as little excuse as Dennison for mistreatment of detainees, or their deaths in detention.

    Obama asked “How hard is it to say that Nazis are bad?” He should also ask “How hard is it to not kiss a brutal dictator’s ass?”

  42. @Eric Florack:

    And by the way don’t tell me about how it’s an unattainable goal, because a couple of years ago bringing Kim to the table her negotiations was an unattainable goal or so Obama told us.

    This is utter nonsense. Bringing Kim to the table has always been easy–he wants to be treated like a co-equal to the President of the United States. Indeed, he has gotten this thing he has long wanted from both of these PR events (and with us getting nothing in return).

    And talks with NK have happened many times over the years. That is not new.

  43. A few other thoughts:

    1. It is almost certainly the case that Kim knew of an American in custody.
    2. No, he probably didn’t direct his punishment, but he knew what kind of treatment he was getting. After all, Otto was publicly sentenced to hard labor. It was international news.
    3. Only an idiot would suggest that war would be a response to the situation.
    4. All anyone is asking of Trump in this situation is to not be an apologist for the guy whose government did what it did. Such a high bar for the the alleged leader of the free world.

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    No, he probably didn’t direct his punishment, but he knew what kind of treatment he was getting. After all, Otto was publicly sentenced to hard labor. It was international news.

    I have no diplomatic experience but it seems extradordinarily unlikely that anyone junior to Kim would risk an international incident on their own judgement. Kim might not have ruled on every beating but I would assume he knew that debilitating beatings were being administered at his behest.

  45. @MarkedMan: When I say “didn’t direct the punishment” I mean I doubt he was directly involved in the specific management of the case. That is all that I meant.

    As noted, I cannot imagine that he was unaware nor do I think he has any grounds for denying responsibility in the least.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You’re going to have to do a little better than “orange man bad”

    No. I don’t have to do any better. I wasn’t debating you, merely making an observation about Trumpers. And I wouldn’t debate any Trumper that, like you, actually pays attention to politics but somehow still believes that Trump is a brilliant negotiator. Just as I wouldn’t debate an adult who still believes Santa Claus is real or that there’s a little man living in his baseball cap telling him to do the bad thing. Because debating someone who lives in a fantasy world is almost as sad as, well, living in a fantasy world.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Sorry, I didn’t make it clear that I was agreeing with you and just expanding.

  48. Tony W says:


    The last time Trump had a meeting with North Korea he gave up military exercises

    Looks like North Korea was able to make the situation permanent

  49. @MarkedMan: Gotcha.

  50. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    (and with us getting nothing in return).

    Why such negativity? You got a reduction of the readiness of US forces in the Korean Peninsula and the Pacific free of charge. Hell, better than free. the money saved might as well be coming out of Kim’s pocket. So you’re getting paid to do what Kim wants, but at least you’re doing what the brutal dictator wants.

    It’s too bad only trump’s base can see things this clearly, and understand the 1-dimensional game of Candy Land as it plays out.

  51. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: ” the point of the statement was to raise the question exactly what your limits are here.”

    I doubt there is a single person in the world who can understand what the hell this is supposed to mean. My limits? What are you talking about?

  52. Teve says:

    @Tony W: Jesus Christ.

    BTW journalists on Twitter are saying that White House officials are secretly happy that Trump didn’t give away the store.

    We just have to make it 22 more months and 19 days.

  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Tony W: Whoa. I can’t think of anyone who would have advised Trump to reward NK in such a way in return for nothing, except Putin.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: That’s really not fair. Most 3 y.o.s can probably beat Trump at Candy Land any given day.

  55. al Ameda says:

    Unfortunately every president must occasionally talk with, broker with, or bargain with unsavory leaders. What makes Trump different from ‘normal’ presidents is that he’s quite willing to throw our allies under the bus in order to indulge his ‘I am a master of making deals’ fetish. Moreover, he likes to sucker punch allies before he sits down at the table, and he likes to deliver another punch as he leaves the table (Trump in Helsinki, or Trump in Hanoi.)

    Was there failure here? No deal? That’s a failure that goes to his ego. The Warmer situation? That’s another matter: Trump failed miserably. He should have at the minimum declined to comment. But Trump doesn’t do damage control, he does damage.

    As we know, even a broken Military Clock is right once a day, not surprisingly Trump was not right this time.

  56. Eric Florack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: but do we really know one way or the other?

    Look, I’m not absolving North Korea of anything as a whole. But it strikes me as possible that Kim didn’t know.
    So why make a major deal on the international stage when the rest of this is going on?

    Priorities and reality

    How much in the way of lives, how much in the way of international stability are the anti trumper’s willing to sacrifice so that they can make a small political point at home?

  57. @Eric Florack: I am not asking for regime change in North Korea (although in a perfect world, I would want Kim out of power). I am in favor of talking to North Korea (but not head of state level talks that are nothing but PR events).

    Trump does not need to lavish praise on Kim. It actually helps hims within NK by doing so. You are praising a US president who is empowering a harsh authoritarian. Your obsequious praise of Trump in this realm underscores how partisanship is your main guide.

    Further, it is more than a little ridiculous to engage in such lavish praise of a dictator at the the exact same time the administration is citing human rights violations as the basis for intervention in Venezuela.

  58. I mean, Holy Hell, Trumps talks about how he is “in love” with Kim and that he thinks Kim will lead NK into massive economic growth and development. It is grotesque (and it isn’t even achieving anything of consequence).