Trump: North Korean Leader ‘A Pretty Smart Cookie’

By Susan Jones | May 1, 2017 | 4:55am EDT
President Donald Trump speaks with CBS's "Face the Nation," which he had dubbed "Deface the Nation," he joked during the interview. (Screen grab from CBS)

(CNSNews.com) – President Donald Trump is not ruling out military action against North Korea if it tests a nuclear missile. At the same time, he’s giving North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un credit for being a “pretty smart cookie.”

“What do you make of the North Korean leader?” John Dickerson, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” asked President Trump in an interview taped on Saturday.

“I have -- I really, you know, have no comment on him. People are saying, is he sane? I have no idea,” Trump said.

“I can tell you this. And a lot of people don't like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He's dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others.

“And, at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So, obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie,” Trump said.

North Korea tested another missile last week, but it was only a “small missile.”

“This was not a big missile. This was not a nuclear test,” as some were anticipating, Trump said.

“If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy. And I can tell you also, I don't believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either.”

Dickerson asked if a nuclear test would mean military action on the part of the United States.

“I don't know. I mean, we'll see,” Trump said. He also said “we’ll find out” how effective the Chinese president can be in curbing North Korea’s aggression.

Trump refused to comment on why North Korea’s missiles keep blowing up.

“Well, I'd rather not discuss it,” he said. “But perhaps they're just not very good missiles. But, eventually, he'll have good missiles.”

Trump described military strategy as a “chess game.” “I just don’t want people to know what my thinking is. So, eventually, he will have a better delivery system. And if that happens, we can't allow it to happen.”

Trump said he cannot allow North Korea to continue on its current path: “And frankly, this should've been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should've been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should've been taken care of by Clinton.”

Trump said he cannot allow North Korea to continue on its current path: “And frankly, this should've been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should've been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should've been taken care of by Clinton.”

As long as China is trying to solve the North Korea problem, President Trump said he will not label China as a currency manipulator, even though he campaigned on a promise to do so.

“I believe that President Xi is working to try and resolve a very big problem for China also. And that's North Korea,” Trump said.

“Can you imagine if I say, hey, by the way, how are you doing with North Korea? Also, we're going to announce that you're a currency manipulator tomorrow. So, the mainstream media never talks about that. They never say that. And that's, you know, unfortunate.”

Trump said the North Korea issue is “maybe more important than trade.”

“Trade is very important,” he said. “But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.”

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