WASHINGTON — President Trump waved away concerns about North Korea’s human rights record in an interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday and said he and Kim Jong Un “understand each other.”
Speaking aboard Air Force One before he departed Singapore after the summit on North Korea, Trump acknowledged executions carried out by Kim but said “so have a lot of other people done some really bad things."
Critics have questioned how aggressively Trump pressed Kim on human rights during their historic summit this week, and whether the president would demand changes before lifting sanctions or reducing the U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump said he discussed the issue with Kim during their meetings, but he did not say whether Kim made any concessions on the point.
“I mean, I can go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done,” Trump said.
“Now, look, with all of that being said, the answer is ‘yes,’” Trump said, responding to Fox News' Bret Baier’s assertion that Kim was responsible for human right abuses.
“I’m going from today," Trump said. "I’m going from maybe 90 days ago.”
Trump’s response was similar to the language he used during a press conference in Singapore at the summit’s conclusion.
“It's rough,” Trump said then of the human rights situation in North Korea. “It's rough in a lot of places, by the way — not just there. But it's rough.”
A United Nations Human Rights Council report in 2014 found widespread use of murder, torture and rape in the country. The scope of human rights violations, the report found, “does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
Trump also told Fox that a U.S. military draw down from South Korea was “never on the table” heading into the talks. The president has said the U.S. will suspend joint military exercises with South Korea as long as Kim continues to negotiate in good faith.
"I think we've done something very historic already," Trump said.
But, he added, “to me, the success is when it gets done.”