Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines' president, speaks during the Philippine Economic Forum in Tokyo, Japan, on Oct. 26, 2016.
Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg/Getty

Trump’s chat with Philippine President Duterte raises alarms

Updated
We learned in late April that Donald Trump had a pleasant chat with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and invited the murderous autocrat to visit the White House. The Washington Post reports on a new transcript of the conversation, which makes matters worse.
[Duterte’s] administration has overseen a brutal extrajudicial campaign that has resulted in the killings of thousands of suspected drug dealers. Trump has not spoken out against that strategy, and in their call he praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

“Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump said, according to the transcript.
In fact, the transcript shows the American president brought this up unprompted. Trump simply thought it’d be a good idea to get the ball rolling with praise for Duterte’s most indefensible policy.

In case anyone needs a refresher, the authoritarian Filipino president has been accused of a series of extrajudicial killings, and just last week, a lawyer in the Philippines asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague to charge Duterte and officials in his government “with mass murder and crimes against humanity.”

In addition to accusations about relying on death squads in his native country, Duterte has threatened to assassinate Filipino journalists, boasted about personally executing people without so much as a hint of due process, and before taking office, spoke openly about his willingness to commit rape. Let’s also not overlook the time Duterte compared himself to Adolf Hitler.

Just as alarming, the point of the Trump-Duterte chat was apparently to discuss North Korea, and the American president bragged during the call that there are “two nuclear submarines” off the coast of the Korean peninsula.

That isn’t ordinarily the sort of thing a U.S. leader tells a foreign official, especially someone with Duterte’s reputation.

Trump has already been caught leaking classified secrets to one foreign country; let’s hope this isn’t becoming a habit for the amateur president.