Even Trump Can’t Explain What Happened in Singapore

“Wouldn’t that make a great condo?”

The Straits Times/ZUMA

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President Donald Trump is striking a triumphant note following his first face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, declaring to reporters Tuesday that the world was going to be “very impressed” with the agreement they signed.

Despite the president’s confidence, details surrounding the document remain vague, with reports suggesting it appears to lack firm commitments by Kim. The document purportedly makes no mention of North Korea’s human rights violations—a topic Trump had promised would not even be broached during the summit. According to Trump, North Korea will begin steps to denuclearize “very quickly,” while the United States has agreed to halt military exercises in the region. That significant concession appears to have blindsided the South Korean government

But while the world scrambles to make sense of what exactly the summit may have achieved, Trump’s remarks at a press conference in Singapore shortly after the meeting appear to only be adding doubt to an already confusing situation. Let’s take a look.

Trump on whether the agreement included specific timetables or commitments:

“It does take a long time to, you know, to pull off complete denuclearization. It takes a long time. Scientifically, you have to wait certain periods of time.”

The response all but confirmed there was no timetable.

Trump on Kim’s devastating record on human rights:

Despite Trump’s earlier commitment, the president said he did indeed discuss human rights with Kim. “It’s a rough situation over there. There’s no question about it. We did discuss it today, pretty strongly, I mean knowing what the main purpose of what we were doing is denuking. But we discussed it in pretty good length—we’ll be doing something on it.”

The president then appeared to downplay North Korea’s human rights record by noting, “It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there.”

Trump on North Korea’s real estate potential:

“They have great beaches,” Trump said. “You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean. I said, ‘Boy, look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo?'”

Trump on skepticism of Kim’s trustworthiness:

“I may be wrong, I mean I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.'”

Then, in a moment of honesty, the president quickly added, “I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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