Former DNI James Clapper: ‘I Can Recall No Instance’ Where Obama Wanted to Meet NKorean Leader

By Melanie Arter | July 1, 2019 | 1:40pm EDT
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

( – Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” on Sunday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who served during the Obama administration, disputed President Donald Trump’s assertion that Obama was begging to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but was refused.

“President Obama wanted to meet, and Chairman Kim would not meet him. The Obama administration was begging for a meeting. They were begging for meetings constantly, and Chairman Kim would not meet with him. And, for some reason, we have a certain chemistry or whatever,” Trump said, speaking in Seoul, South Korea, over the weekend.


“I wish we'd had a split-screen with your face, because you had a very puzzled look as you listened to that. What's your reaction?” CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked.

“Well, I don't know where he's getting that. In all the deliberations that I have participated in on North Korea during the Obama administration, I can recall no instance whatever where President Obama ever indicated any interest whatsoever in meeting with the -- Chairman Kim. I just know -- that's news to me,” Clapper said.



“News to you. All right, so, you know better, as well as anyone who's been involved in this space, the difficulties that talks with North Korea can lead to. The last summit failed. Do you think -- I mean, to Fareed's point, you -- not shutting down the idea that this -- we don't know at this point, but do you think that things are at least headed in a better direction?” Keilar asked.

“Well, sure. And, to Fareed's point, photo-ops at the DMZ are always better than the long-range missile tests or underground nuclear tests. That's a given. I do think it would be useful, though, if we got down to some hard negotiation, like agreeing on what denuclearization actually means, and asking the North Koreans the question, what is it, it would take for you to feel sufficiently secure so that you don't need nuclear weapons? And in the absence of knowing the answer to that question, I think it's very hard to set out a negotiating strategy,” Clapper said.


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