The Note: Trump, Kim relationship based on trust – and how to verify

PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump are pictured during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore.PlayThe Strait Times via Getty Images
WATCH President Donald Trump opens up about historic summit in exclusive interview

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Interested in The Note?

Add The Note as an interest to stay up to date on the latest The Note news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

They need each other now more than ever.

Beyond the handshakes and the photo ops, the flags, the logos, the special video, the closing statement and the "message of peace," President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have constructed something critical and tenuous in Singapore where they need something valuable and often fleeting from each other: trust.

Decades of mutual hostility and bellicosity have to and must continue to melt away if the vague language agreed to in Singapore is to be achieved. Kim got a major concession in having the meeting at all, and goes from here with a giant assumption that he will behave the way the American president believes he will.

PHOTO: North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with President Donald Trump at the start of their historic summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with President Donald Trump at the start of their historic summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

"Sometimes the people you most distrust turn out to be the most honorable ones, and the people that you do trust turn out to be not the honorable ones," the president told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, shortly after the agreement with North Korea was signed. “I believe he wants to get it done. ... I do trust him.”

Trump called it "a great moment in the history of the world" early Tuesday.

What history remembers will hinge on the famous Reagan-era approach to the Soviet Union: "Trust, but verify."

Where does trust stem from in a regime that has misled, obscured and brutalized, and has remained isolated along the way? How on earth do you begin to verify there?

"Anyone can make war," the president said Tuesday, "but only the most courageous can make peace."

Trump and Kim have seemed to "get" each other through this process – with mutual respect shining through.

Now their futures are intertwined.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Days after a Trump administration official said there was a "special place in hell" for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Trump said it was an "honor" to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a brutal dictator, who has ruled with an unflinching iron fist over his people.

President Trump described Mr. Kim as "very talented."

While international partners and experts agree that solving the North Korean nuclear crisis is of paramount importance, the fact remains that the North Korean regime, which the United States promised overnight to protect contingent on its commitments to nuclear nonproliferation, oppresses its people unlike any other nation in the world.

Trump first said during his early press conference, the rogue nation’s human rights record was only "relatively briefly" discussed during the historic meeting. Later, he said it was discussed "at pretty good length." Either way, the topic was not mentioned in the joint document the two leaders signed.

PHOTO: North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un looks at his document at a signing ceremony with President Donald Trump during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un looks at his document at a signing ceremony with President Donald Trump during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

A 2014 U.N. Commission report concluded that in North Korea there is “almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” Citizens who express disagreement with the dictator are often sent to prison labor camps, which the U.N. report went on to describe as places that “gradually eliminate” inmates “through deliberate starvation, forced labor, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide.”

An Auschwitz survivor, in fact, was one of a small group of judges with the International Bar Association, which concluded that Mr. Kim should be charged for crimes against humanity, and said the conditions inside the labor camps was "terrible or even worse than Nazi concentration camps."

The U.N. report estimates hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have "perished" in the camps in the last five decades.

The TIP with John Verhovek

It was roughly seven months ago that the Democratic hopes of a "Blue Wave" sweeping them back into power in the U.S. House first took shape in the form of a historically strong performance in the Commonwealth of Virginia – where the party not only cemented their control on the governor's mansion, but also nearly retook the state House of Delegates for the first time in almost 20 years.

Today, voters in the Old Dominion return to the polls for the first time since introducing the nation to figures like Danica Roem, the nation's first openly transgender state lawmaker, and Chris Hurst, who won a deep-red seat in the House of Delegates just two years after the tragic murder of his girlfriend, former WDBJ reporter Alison Parker.

PHOTO: Delegate Danica Roem, center, and other delegates are sworn in on the floor of the House of Delegates at the Virginia State Capitol, Jan. 10, 2018, in Richmond, Va.The Washington Post/Getty Images, FILE
Delegate Danica Roem, center, and other delegates are sworn in on the floor of the House of Delegates at the Virginia State Capitol, Jan. 10, 2018, in Richmond, Va.

A number of Virginia congressional districts, namely the 2nd, 7th and 10th, are central to the Democrats path to the House majority, and turnout in those districts will once again be a key metric to watch tonight.

In the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Tim Kaine, the party seems content believing the narrative that the failed candidacy of 2017 gubernatorial candidate and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie was due in large part to voters' skepticism that he was a genuine and effective messenger of the Trump agenda.

The race between Corey Stewart, who nearly defeated Gillespie in the 2017 gubernatorial primary, State Delegate Nick Freitas, and conservative pastor E.W. Jackson has, like a number of GOP primaries this cycle, hinged on proving who is the true Trump-loyalist in the race.


  • President Trump travels from Singapore, to Guam, to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, before returning to the White House.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden accepts the National Children's Alliance Champion for Children Award on behalf of his late son Beau Biden at 9 a.m.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on election interference at 10 a.m.
  • Washington celebrates the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup with a victory parade beginning at 11 a.m.
  • Twenty-five U.S. House seats, four U.S. Senate seats and three governor's seats are on the ballot in today's primary elections in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Virginia.

    "I do trust him, yeah. Now, will I come back to you in a year and you’ll be interviewing and I’ll say, gee I made a mistake? That’s always possible. You know, we’re dealing at a very high level, a lot of things can change, a lot of things are possible." — President Trump told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in Singapore after the historic summit with Kim Jong Un.


    EXCLUSIVE: 'I do trust him': Trump opens up about Kim after historic summit. North Korea will denuclearize, President Donald Trump declared in an exclusive interview with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos just hours after intense and historic negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Meghan Keneally, Bill Hutchinson and Karma Allen)

    President Trump urges Kim Jong Un to seize 'new chapter' in future of North Korea. President Donald Trump on Tuesday hailed his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as an opportunity to usher in "a glorious new era of security and prosperity" for the North Korean people, calling for Kim to seize on the opportunity in the interest of world peace. (Alexander Mallin)

    Kim Jong Un, Trump participate in signing ceremony, make history: Live updates The landmark meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un has wrapped after nearly five hours of various meetings. (Meghan Keneally, Kendall Karson and Matt Seyler)

    Trump lavishes Kim Jong Un with praise following historic summit. President Donald Trump lavished praise on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after their historic four and a half hour face-to-face meeting in Singapore Tuesday, where the two signed an agreement that offered security commitments for North Korea in exchange for "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." (Alexander Mallin and Jordyn Phelps)

    Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow suffers heart attack. The announcement came less than a half hour before Trump's historic meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. (Matt Seyler)

    Trump's feud with Canada's Trudeau leaves GOP senators baffled. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would "move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that Americans have unjustly applied to us." (Mariam Khan)

    Congress gearing up to deliver stinging rebuke to Trump over trade talks with China. As President Donald Trump in Singapore flexed his diplomatic muscles with North Korea, members of his own party back in Washington were gearing up to deliver a stinging rebuke over his efforts to normalize trade with China. (Ali Rogin)

    Anniversary of Otto Warmbier's release brings up harsh memories of North Korea. Nearly one year before President Donald Trump's historic handshake with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, the president painted a very different picture of the "brutality" of the Kim regime following the release of an American student who was in a coma. (Matt Seyler)

    'Net Neutrality' rules are now history, here's what that means. Federal government rules preventing internet service providers from throttling certain content, often dubbed "net neutrality," officially died on Monday. (Jeffrey Cook)

    No more asylum claims based on fear of gang violence: Sessions. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the Trump administration will no longer accept asylum claims based on fear of domestic violence, gang violence or other “personal crime.” (Luke Barr)

    North Korean defectors say human rights must be on table at summit. While North Korean defectors are provided with a resettlement program catering to their specific needs in South Korea, a program that experts call "generous" and "outstanding" compared to the program in the U.S., defectors in the U.S. are treated like any other refugees. (Nataly Pak)

    The New York Times catalogs the atrocities committed under Kim Jong Un's regime in North Korea.

    Is Trump's feud with Trudeau a ploy meant to signal strength to Kim Jong Un? Callum Borchers of the Washington Post offers his take.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.