Trump calls North Korean leader a 'pretty smart cookie'

Trump also said he has "no idea" if Kim Jong Un is sane.

ByABC News
April 30, 2017, 3:25 PM

— -- President Donald Trump appeared to give Kim Jong Un credit for leading North Korea after his father’s death, calling him a “pretty smart cookie.”

The president in an interview that aired Sunday was asked by John Dickerson of CBS for his impression of the North Korean dictator.

Trump said he has “no idea” if the Pyongyang leader is sane. He also alluded to when Kim Jong Un took control of the country after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011.

“I can tell you this, and a lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people,” Trump said.

“A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it,” Trump said. “So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”

The president went on to criticize previous Republican and Democratic administrations for their handling of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Kim Jong Un in 2013 executed his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, calling him “worse than a dog.”

The young North Korean leader's half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, who was Kim Jong Il’s eldest son and at one time his likely successor, was killed in Malaysia last February at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Trump said similar things about Kim Jong Un in a Reuters interview last week.

"He's 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want, but that is not easy, especially at that age,” the president said. "I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit, I'm just saying that's a very hard thing to do.”

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