White House walks back Trump comment that first lady has 'gotten to know' Kim Jong Un

Image: President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake han
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands at the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea on June 30, 2019. Copyright Dan Scavino via Twitter
By Dartunorro Clark with NBC News Politics
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The first lady has never accompanied the president during his meetings with the North Korean leader.


The White House had to clarify a baffling statement made by President Donald Trump on Monday in which he suggested that first lady Melania Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had developed a friendship.

"Kim Jong Un, who I've gotten to know extremely well, the First Lady has gotten to know, Kim Jong Un -- and I think she'd agree with me — he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential," Trump said during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron following the Group of 7 summit in Biarritz, France.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham clarified shortly after that that the first lady "hasn't met" the North Korean leader.

"President Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim - and while the First Lady hasn't met him, the President feels like she's gotten to know him, too," Grisham said.

Trump has long fawned over his relationship with Kim, which historians have noted is unusual for an American president. Before the pair met a historic summit in Singapore in 2018, followed by a second summit in Vietnam in 2019, the two leaders had goaded each other over North Korea's missile testing.

However, at a September 2018 campaign rally, he told his supporters that the two eventually "fell in love" after their Singapore meeting.

"I like him, he likes me!" Trump said at the time. "I guess that's okay. Am I allowed to say that?"

He added, "I was really being tough and so was he, and we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love. No really, he wrote me beautiful letters. They were great letters. And then we fell in love."

This past June, Trump also met Kim at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea and briefly set foot into the isolated country, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so.

The first lady, however, has never accompanied the president during his meetings with Kim.

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