Donald Trump hosted a press conference early this morning from Hanoi, where his talks with North Korea's Kim Jong-un had just collapsed, forcing the American president to return home emptyhanded. Trump noted that Kim said he'd refrain from a new round of weapons tests, adding, "I trust him, and I take him at his word."
Just how much does the Republican trust his dictatorial pal in Pyongyang? More than can reasonably be justified.
Kim Jong Un was not responsible for horrific injuries sustained by American student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after being released from 17 months of detention in North Korea, President Donald Trump said Thursday."Some really bad things happened to Otto -- some really, really bad things. But he tells me that he didn't know about it and I will take him at his word," Trump said, referring to the North Korean dictator.The president added that Kim told him that he "felt very badly about it."
So let me get this straight. North Korea held an American in detention for over a year; the prisoner later died; Kim Jong-un claims he "didn't know about it," but feels "very badly" about what happened; and Trump is satisfied with the explanation?
What amazes me is who gets the benefit of the doubt from the American president. Because as outlandish as his comments about the North Korean leader were, they're part of a much larger pattern of credulity.
Russia's Vladimir Putin said his country didn't attack American elections, and Trump took him at his word. Saudi Arabia's Mohammad Bin Salman said he wasn't involved in the Khashoggi murder, and Trump took him at his word, too.
Indeed, when it comes to people Trump likes, denials seem to be accepted at face value. A week ago, for example, after New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft was charged with solicitation, the president was quick to remind reporters that Kraft "proclaimed his innocence, totally."
When Alabama's Roy Moore was accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, Trump declared, "Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That's all I can say. He denies it. And by the way, he totally denies it."
When former White House aide Rob Porter was accused of spousal abuse, the president argued, "He says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent."
When it comes to dictators, donors, and Republicans, Trump's generosity of spirit seems almost limitless, doesn't it?