The ostensible point of Donald Trump’s talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un was to push the United States’ broader goal of denuclearization. On this, the summit in Singapore fell far short: the two leaders agreed to “work toward” denuclearization, but their joint statement was vague, included no commitments, and lacked any kind of tangible roadmap for success.
Even skeptics thought Trump and Kim might agree to something resembling tangible results. They didn’t.
But in the American president’s mind, the agreement includes commitments that apparently only he can see. Consider this exchange between Trump and ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: [North Koreans] have to get rid of all their nuclear weapons?
TRUMP: They have to get rid of, yeah, I think that they will. I really believe that he will. I’ve gotten to know him well in a short period of time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did [Kim] tell you that?
TRUMP: Yeah, he’s de-nuking, I mean he’s de-nuking the whole place. It’s going to start very quickly. I think he’s going to start now.
No, he’s not. No one could possibly believe that North Korea is “now” in the process of getting rid of its nuclear program. That’s not what Kim Jong-un said; that’s not what he and Trump agreed to yesterday; and that doesn’t even make sense given everything we know about North Korea’s position.
So why in the world did the president say it? There are three possible explanations:
1. Trump’s understanding of current events has reached a delusional stage, and he actually believes his own rhetoric.
2. Kim Jong-un quietly told the American president that his denuclearization efforts are poised to begin, hoping Trump would actually believe this.
3. Trump just made this up.
This obviously requires some speculation, but I’m going with the third option. Trump, desperate to pretend he didn’t leave Singapore empty-handed, thinks he can do what he’s done so many times before: exaggerate to the point of dishonesty and hope just enough people are fooled.
He lied ahead of the summit; he’s lying after the summit.