President Donald Trump spent a few hours with his Vietnamese counterpart in Hanoi Wednesday ahead of a dinner meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and used part of the time to belittle a Democratic senator.
Trump’s motorcade delivered him to his hotel at 1:35 p.m. after he applauded Vietnamese leaders for buying more U.S.-made goods like Boeing jets and GE engines. Just over an hour later, the president was in his room mocking Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
“I have now spent more time in Vietnam than Da Nang Dick Blumenthal, the third rate Senator from Connecticut (how is Connecticut doing?),” he wrote in a tweet. “His war stories of his heroism in Vietnam were a total fraud – he was never even there. We talked about it today with Vietnamese leaders!”
I have now spent more time in Vietnam than Da Nang Dick Blumenthal, the third rate Senator from Connecticut (how is Connecticut doing?). His war stories of his heroism in Vietnam were a total fraud – he was never even there. We talked about it today with Vietnamese leaders!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2019
Hours later, the president’s motorcade was on the move again, this time to another hotel for a dinner meeting with Kim. The two leaders shook hands and pats on the back — and a few jokes, it appeared — in front of television cameras with the flags of both countries behind them.
“No,” Trump said when asked if he had dropped his demand that Kim totally give up his nuclear arms program. Kim said nothing. In recent days, Trump has said as long as the North is not testing any nuclear devices or missiles he will be “happy.”
Kim did speak moments later, seated beside Trump, saying he hopes the two leaders can produce an “outcome that is welcome by everyone, and I am sure that we can do this.”
Kim said he hopes the two leaders can produce an “outcome that is welcome by everyone, and I am sure that we can do this.” The U.S. leader said the duo is “satisfied” with the pace of talks even though some would like things to move faster, and again said he thinks the North has “tremendous” economic potential.
In a surreal moment, the North Korean leader laughed and shook his head when a reporter in Hanoi asked President Trump about the public testimony coming later Wednesday from his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, in which he is set to tell a House panel about new allegations of wrongdoing by the president. Trump said nothing, and just starred at the reporter who asked the question.
Trump seems to enjoy criticizing Blumenthal for embellishing his Marine Corps service during the Vietnam War. Blumenthal indicated he served in areas of conflict, but he did not see combat.
“He was never in Vietnam,” Trump roared during an Oct. 2 campaign rally in Tennessee, charging Blumenthal with “a lie.” And what’s a perceived lie by a political foe without a nickname? Trump dubbed him “Da Nang Dick.”
The crowd cheered. Television cameras caught those seated behind Trump laughing as he trotted out the new moniker.
During his meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, U.S. and Vietnamese officials signed documents to finalize $21 billion in deals that will see Vietnamese firms buy Boeing jets, GE/CFM engines and technologies from Sabre Corporation.
“These deals will support more than 83,000 American jobs and provide increased safety and reliability for Vietnamese International travelers,” according to a senior administration official.
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