President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he has a “stronger and tougher” view about how to deal with North Korea, and while he listens to those with other views, “ultimately my attitude is the one that matters, isn’t it?”
“Ultimately, I will do what’s right for the United States and, really, what’s right for the world,” the president said. “Because that’s really a world problem. That’s beyond just the United States. That’s a world problem, and it’s a problem that has to be solved.”
Trump spoke with reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The president was asked about his relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“We have a very good relationship,” Trump said. “The press really doesn’t understand that, but that’s OK. We actually have a very good relationship.”
But when he was asked if he was on same page as Tillerson on North Korea, Trump made it clear they were not.
“I think I have a little bit different attitude on North Korea than other people might have,” the president said. “And I listen to everybody, but ultimately my attitude is the one that matters, isn’t it?
“That’s the way it works. That’s the way the system is. But I think I might have a somewhat different attitude and a different way than other people. I think perhaps I feel stronger and tougher on that subject than other people, but I listen to everybody.”
How much he listens to Tillerson has become an open question.
Earlier this month, Trump sent out a series off tweets that many said undercut his top diplomat’s efforts to deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
Soon after, NBC News ran a story saying Tillerson wanted to quit and had privately called Trump a moron. Tillerson denied wanting to resign but dodged questions about the moron remark. Later a State Department spokeswoman told reporters Tillerson had never said it.
Earlier this week, Trump addressed the matter in an interview with Forbes, saying “I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders later told reporters that the president was only joking.
“He made a joke,” Sanders said Wednesday. “Maybe you guys should get a sense of humor and try it sometime. But he simply made a joke. He’s been extremely clear, time and time again, despite the fact that you guys want to continue to bring this up and create a story.
“He’s got 100 percent confidence in the secretary of state. He said it multiple times over the last couple of weeks.”