Even Trump Can’t Explain What Happened in Singapore

“Wouldn’t that make a great condo?”

The Straits Times/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

President Donald Trump is striking a triumphant note following his first face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, declaring to reporters Tuesday that the world was going to be “very impressed” with the agreement they signed.

Despite the president’s confidence, details surrounding the document remain vague, with reports suggesting it appears to lack firm commitments by Kim. The document purportedly makes no mention of North Korea’s human rights violations—a topic Trump had promised would not even be broached during the summit. According to Trump, North Korea will begin steps to denuclearize “very quickly,” while the United States has agreed to halt military exercises in the region. That significant concession appears to have blindsided the South Korean government

But while the world scrambles to make sense of what exactly the summit may have achieved, Trump’s remarks at a press conference in Singapore shortly after the meeting appear to only be adding doubt to an already confusing situation. Let’s take a look.

Trump on whether the agreement included specific timetables or commitments:

“It does take a long time to, you know, to pull off complete denuclearization. It takes a long time. Scientifically, you have to wait certain periods of time.”

The response all but confirmed there was no timetable.

Trump on Kim’s devastating record on human rights:

Despite Trump’s earlier commitment, the president said he did indeed discuss human rights with Kim. “It’s a rough situation over there. There’s no question about it. We did discuss it today, pretty strongly, I mean knowing what the main purpose of what we were doing is denuking. But we discussed it in pretty good length—we’ll be doing something on it.”

The president then appeared to downplay North Korea’s human rights record by noting, “It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there.”

Trump on North Korea’s real estate potential:

“They have great beaches,” Trump said. “You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean. I said, ‘Boy, look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo?'”

Trump on skepticism of Kim’s trustworthiness:

“I may be wrong, I mean I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.'”

Then, in a moment of honesty, the president quickly added, “I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend