Sanders: Trump and Kim Jong Un agree on assessment of Biden

Joe Biden
Joe Biden
By Ben Kamisar with NBC News Politics
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"I think they agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden," the White House press secretary said in an exclusive interview.


WASHINGTON — North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump agree in their criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday during an exclusive interview on NBC's "Meet the Press.

"Speaking from Japan, where she is accompanying the president, Sanders defended Trump for evoking North Korea's criticisms of the Democratic presidential hopeful.

And she accused the Obama administration of creating "messes" in places like North Korea that Trump has had to clean up.

"I think they agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden," she said of Trump and Kim.

"The president doesn't need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden. He's given his own assessment a number of times. I think you've seen it. I'm sure you've covered it on your program. The president watched him and his administration with President Obama fail for eight years."

She said Trump has "cleaned up a lot of the messes that were left behind. We shouldn't even be in the position that we're in to have to deal with North Korea at the level we are if they had done their job in the first place."

"They failed with Iran, they failed with North Korea, they failed on trade," she said, "And we finally have a president that's being tough with these countries. We've put tougher sanctions on North Korea than the Obama administration ever did. But at the same time the president wants to develop that relationship."

Biden has come under increasing criticism from the president since he announced his candidacy last month. On Saturday, Trump responded to concerns over recent North Korean missile tests, saying he is confident in his relationship with Kim and seeming to support the foreign leader's criticism of Biden.

The North Korean Central News Agency, which is run by the state, has taken an increasingly hostile tone towards Biden in recent days, with rhetoric scaling more hostile as Trump increases his own criticism of his potential 2020 challenger.

A report from May 21 pans Biden as "reckless and senseless, seized by ambition for power," as well as a "fool of low IQ."

Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates responded to both the North Koreans and Trump in a statement from earlier this week, arguing "given Vice President Biden's record of standing up for American values and interests, it's no surprise that North Korea would prefer that Donald Trump remain in the White House."

"As Vice President Biden said in Philadelphia, Donald Trump 'embraces dictators and tyrants like Putin and Kim Jung Un' while alienating our closest allies. That is antithetical to who we are and it has to change," Bates said.

During her Sunday interview, Sanders echoed the president's statements about North Korea's recent weapons tests that came months after a February summit between the two leaders ended with no deal.

On Saturday, national security adviser John Bolton said that the missile tests were a violation of U.N. resolutions, a statement Trump appeared to downplay in his public tweet.

But despite the lack of an agreement to denuclearize the peninsula, Sanders said that good has still come from the attempt to "develop" the relationship between the two countries.

"There have been steps that have moved us towards. For a significant period of time there was no missile testing. We got hostages back home to the United States and remains of American war heroes. I don't know how you can say that that's nothing," she said.

"To me, that is certainly something. And I know it's something to the families of those individuals who those people came back home."

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