Trump's team reportedly views Biden as a significant threat to re-election

By Adam Carlson
May 27, 2019 02:10 PM
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Donald Trump
| Credit: KIYOSHI OTA/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Speaking with reporters on Monday during his state visit to Japan, President Donald Trump had several nice things to say about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un — but no kind words for former Vice President Joe Biden, whom Trump has repeatedly disparaged ahead of a possible showdown in next year’s election.

In a historically unusual move reflecting how completely President Trump has shrugged off longstanding norms about polite political behavior, he even agreed with Kim, a brutal authoritarian, that Biden was not very intelligent.

“Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-I.Q. individual. He probably is, based on his record. I think I agree with him on that,” Trump told reporters during a joint news conference with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to a transcript provided by the White House.

Asked about “criticism that you’re sort of supporting a dictator instead of an American vice president,” Trump pointed to former President Barack Obama and Biden’s policies toward Iran, which he has moved to counter since taking office, believing they were too generous.

“I don’t take sides as to who I’m in favor or who I’m not, but I can tell you that Joe Biden was a disaster,” Trump argued. “His administration, with President Obama, they were basically a disaster when it came to so many things.”

North Korea’s state-controlled media originally attacked Biden as a “fool of low I.Q.” after the former vice president called Kim a dictator and a tyrant, according to the Washington Post.

Trump’s team views Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2020 election, as a significant threat to re-election, the New York Times reported this month.

The president has attacked him repeatedly and on Saturday tweeted that he was pleased to hear North Korea had also weighed in on Biden.

Republican lawmaker Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois, on Sunday criticized Trump’s pro-Kim, anti-Biden position.

He tweeted: “It’s Memorial Day Weekend and you’re taking a shot at Biden while praising a dictator. This is just plain wrong.”

Johnny Cash‘s daughter Rosanne also spoke out, tweeting in part, “My dad served during the Korean War. For this??”

Trump, like his predecessors, has said his priority is for North Korea to completely denuclearize its weapons — but he’s sought this goal via unorthodox face-to-face negotiations.

Previous presidents largely used an alternating mix of financial pressures (including sanctions) and international alienation alongside traditional diplomatic talks and reciprocal promises such as helping building nuclear power plants.

Trump met with Kim last year and again in February, in a first for America and North Korea.

President Trump speaks at a news conference on Monday during a state visit to Japan
| Credit: KIYOSHI OTA/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
President Trump (left) speaks at a news conference on Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
| Credit: KIYOSHI OTA/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Still, Trump’s efforts to curb North Korea’s missile program and nuclear capabilities have stalled and the last summit collapsed without a resolution.

Earlier this month, North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its eastern coast, according to the Times. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, described the launches as in clear violation of the United Nations Security Council, of which America is a key member.

Not so, Trump told reporters on Monday.

“My people think it could have been a violation, as you know. I view it differently,” he said. “I view it as a man — perhaps he wants to get attention, and perhaps not. Who knows? It doesn’t matter.”

“There have been no ballistic missiles going out,” he argued, contradicting Bolton’s earlier statements on the matter. “There have been no long-range missiles going out.”

Speaking next to Trump, however, Japan’s prime minister said the short-range ballistic missile launch was in violation of the U.N.

Abe called it “quite a regrettable act,” according to the Post, but spoke positively of Trump’s ongoing efforts at dialogue with North Korea.

The president has a history of flattering autocratic leaders whom he sees as embodying unilateral strength — including Kim and, most notoriously, Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

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Trump continued to defend Kim on Monday.

Kim “is looking to create a nation that has great strength economically. … He knows that, with nuclear, that’s never going to happen. Only bad can happen. He understands that. He is a very smart man. He gets it well,” Trump said.

He insisted that there had been no further nuclear testing by North Korea and noted sanctions are still in place.

“I am very happy with the way it’s going,” Trump said. “And intelligent people agree with me.”