Keep your enemies close and kick your friends to the curb.
President Donald Trump perplexed political pundits when he boasted Thursday that he has “a very good relationship” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, while in the same breath deriding his former right-hand man Stephen Bannon as a traitor.
In a sweeping interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump explained that him calling the North Korean leader a “maniac,” a “bad dude,” “short and fat” and “rocket man” over Twitter is part of a broader strategy to win over his enemies.
“You’ll see that a lot with me,” Trump said about his fiery tweets and nuclear missile threats. “Then all of the sudden somebody’s my best friend.”
“I could give you 20 examples,” he continued, without providing examples. “I’m a very flexible person.”
Trump would not confirm or deny if he has ever spoken with Kim, whose isolated nation has performed a number of ballistic missile tests that have prompted international concern in recent months.
“I’m not saying I have or haven’t,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to comment.”
Trump then steered the conversation to Bannon, who was recently ousted from Breitbart News amid a public feud with the president.
Trump claimed that his ex-chief strategist betrayed him when he told author Michael Wolff that his son, Donald Trump Jr., was “unpatriotic” and “treasonous” for hosting a campaign meeting attended by several Russian operatives promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. When asked if his relationship with Bannon is permanently broken, Trump stated, “I don’t know what the word permanent means.”
Also Thursday, congressional investigators revealed that Bannon will testify before the House committee probing Russian election meddling on Tuesday. The closed-door testimony will focus on Bannon’s time as Trump’s campaign chairman, not on his time as chief White House strategist.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the House committee’s top Democrat, told reporters that he would like “dozens” more witnesses, Bannon included, to appear before Congress, making clear that he considers the probe into Russian election meddling far from over.
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