Donald Trump came under fire this week after he said he would be “honored” to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un if the circumstances were right, but the president has a history of making affectionate remarks towards authoritarian leaders.
North Korea Dictator Kim Jong-un
“At a very young age, he was able to assume power,” 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. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin
“[Putin has] been a leader far more than our president has been a leader,” Trump said last fall.
Then, in 2014, Trump said, “When I went to Russia with the Miss Universe pageant, [Putin] contacted me and was so nice. I mean, the Russian people were so fantastic to us. I’ll just say this, they are doing — they’re outsmarting us at many turns, as we all understand. I mean, their leaders are, whether you call them smarter or more cunning or whatever, but they’re outsmarting us. If you look at Syria or other places, they’re outsmarting us.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan
“I do give great credit to him for turning it around,” Trump said of the attempted coup in 2016.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
“He’s a fantastic guy,” Trump said of Sisi in September. “I thought it was a great meeting. We met for a long time, actually. There was a good chemistry there. You know when you have good chemistry with people. There was a good feeling between us.”
“He took control of Egypt. And he really took control of it.”
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte
Trump set off alarm bells when he invited Duterte to the White House after the two had a “very friendly conversation.” He praised him for “fighting very hard to rid [his] country of drugs.”