Donald Trump Sees Kim Jong Un Summit as TV Ratings Gold, Wanted It As Distraction From Government Shutdown: Report

Ahead of Donald Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam this week, White House aides revealed that the president wanted to stage the second summit in February to distract from the partial federal government shutdown.

Speaking to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, the Trump aides noted that the president was pleased with the positive coverage following his last meeting with Kim and sees their summits as TV ratings gold.

"You can suck all the oxygen up out of the entire room and captivate the entire world," one Trump adviser said.

Although White House aides warned the president that Kim is not rational and could even be mentally unstable, Trump will go ahead with their second summit in Vietnam's capital city of Hanoi on Wednesday, eight months after their historic Singapore summit last June.

The meeting comes amid stalled relations between the two nations after reports that North Korea is still producing nuclear weapons and fuel despite vowing to abandon its nuclear arsenal at the Singapore meeting.

"President Trump is looking to—after really in some respects breaking the ice in June—to talk in more depth about the kind of future North Korea could enjoy if it follows through on its commitment to final and full denuclearization," a U.S. official told reporters on Thursday during a briefing call.

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history, which lasted 35 days, ended on January 25 after Trump walked back a previous pledge not to reopen the government without substantial funding for his border wall. Less than two weeks later, the president announced plans for his second one-on-one meeting with Kim during his second State of the Union Address.

After announcing the summit, Trump boasted about his good personal relationship with Kim and claimed that America would have gone to war with North Korea if he hadn't been elected president.

"As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months," the president said. "If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one."

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President Donald Trump speaks during the 2019 White House Business Session With the Nation’s Governors on February 25. Getty/Mark Wilson
Donald Trump Sees Kim Jong Un Summit as TV Ratings Gold, Wanted It As Distraction From Government Shutdown: Report | U.S.