The former White House press secretary writes in a new memoir that she was "stunned" when the North Korean dictator appeared to "wink at me"

By Benjamin VanHoose
September 02, 2020 12:44 PM
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From left: Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Donald Trump in 2019
Joe Raedle/Getty

Sarah Huckabee Sanders writes in her new memoir that President Donald Trump once joked with her to "take one for the team" with Kim Jong Un.

Next week, the 38-year-old former White House press secretary will publish Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House.

According to reports in The Guardian and The New York Times, which reviewed the book or its excerpts, Sanders recalls an instance when Trump said that the North Korean dictator "hit on" her at a summit in Singapore in June 2018.

The president, 74, suggested she "go to North Korea and take one for the team," Sanders writes.

In recounting the moment with Kim, Sanders — who left the Trump administration in 2019 — writes that North Korea's leader was "staring" at her.

"We made direct eye contact and Kim nodded and appeared to wink at me. I was stunned," she writes. "I quickly looked down and continued taking notes. … All I could think was, ‘What just happened? Surely Kim Jong Un did not just mark me!?’ ”

Afterward, when she told Trump and his chief of staff at the time, John Kelly, about what happened, she recalls that Trump laughed: “Kim Jong Un hit on you! He did! He f------ hit on you!”

(A White House spokesman declined to comment on the record about Sanders' account. Kelly could not immediately be reached.)

President Donald Trump (left) and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in June 2019
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
St. Martin's Press

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Sanders — who is mom to daughter Scarlett and sons Huck and George, whom she shares with husband Bryan — writes that she insisted, “Sir, please stop,” to which Trump followed up by saying, “Well, Sarah, that settles it. You’re going to North Korea and taking one for the team! Your husband and kids will miss you, but you’ll be a hero to your country!”

According to an official description of the book, Speaking for Myself is said to be a "frank, revealing" memoir in which Sanders discusses "her faith, the challenges of being a working mother at the highest level of American politics, her relationship with the press, and her unique role in the historic fight raging between the Trump administration and its critics for the future of our country."

Sanders sometimes stirred controversy during her time as the administration's spokeswoman, including when she admitted to lying to reporters about the FBI's support of James Comey — which she later said was a "slip of the tongue."

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According to a White House press release at the time, the June 2018 summit between the U.S. and North Korea was to reach an agreement to "cooperate for the development of new ... relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world."

The president has made much of his bond with the 30-something Kim. In summer 2019, he became the first U.S. president to set foot in North Korea. The face-to-face diplomacy signified a shift for Trump after he had previously threatened Kim on Twitter with nuclear retaliation.

Speaking for Myself will be published on Tuesday.