White House clarifies Melania Trump hasn't met Kim Jong Un after Trump comment

The White House on Monday clarified that first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE has not met North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnSouth Korea and the billion mustache North Korea replaces its foreign minister: report Brent Budowsky: The patriotic duty of Senate Republicans MORE after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE suggested at a press conference earlier in the day that she knew the dictator well.

The president was likening the prospect of negotiations with Iran to his efforts to denuclearize North Korea during a press conference to cap his visit to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit. Trump praised Kim, who he said recognizes the country's economic possibilities.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Kim Jong Un — who I’ve gotten to know extremely well; the first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong Un, and I think she’d agree with me — he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential,” Trump said.

Cameras briefly showed the first lady sitting in the audience, where she remained expressionless.

The White House released a statement Monday afternoon about the remarks.

“President Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim — and while the First Lady hasn’t met him, the President feels like she’s gotten to know him too," said White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamParnas says he has turned over tape of Trump calling for diplomat's firing ABC: Recording apparently captures Trump discussing Yovanovitch ouster with Parnas, Fruman Trump's split-screen presidency takes stark form in impeachment MORE, who also served as Melania Trump's spokeswoman. 

The first lady has not been present for any of the three face-to-face meetings between Trump and Kim.

The two leaders first met in Singapore in June 2018. Melania Trump was unable to fly at the time following a kidney procedure.

Melania Trump was not present when her husband met with Kim in Vietnam earlier this year, nor was she there was the president stopped in the Demilitarized Zone in June.

Trump has indicated he expects to meet with Kim again. Talks have thus far failed to yield concrete progress on denuclearization, and North Korea has resumed testing of short-range missiles.

The president has said he does not believe the launches violate any agreement, though allies have said they breach a United Nations security resolution.