President Donald Trump began Sunday with a tweet typical of his own unfiltered style, but not so typical of a president halfway through a two-week trip abroad. He responded to a release from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that called him a "dotard" with a personal insult of his own. Couched between conflicting statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump's words have even his own chief of staff declaring his boss' Twitter account unimportant to him, the New York Times reports.
"Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me 'old,'when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?' Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!" Trump wrote on Sunday from Hanoi, Vietnam.
The back-and-forth between the North Korean leader and Trump has been going on for months, and this latest round echoes their exchange in September, when the president called Jong Un "Rocket Man" during his address to the United Nations. The dictator responded by naming Trump a dotard.
"The tweets don’t run my life — good staff work runs it,” John Kelly, Trump's chief of staff, told reporters who asked about the post, according to the Washington Post.
Trump wasn't just tweeting when it came to his controversial comments about another world leader this weekend. During the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Saturday, Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met privately. On the flight to Hanoi, Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he again asked Putin if he'd interfered with the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reported.
"He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again," he said. "Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it."
The president went on to say that three former heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies that raised the alarm about Russian meddling — former CIA Director John O. Brennan, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., and former FBI Director James B. Comey — were "political hacks."
At a news conference on Sunday morning, however, Trump partially reversed his assertion, saying, "I believe in our agencies. I’ve worked with them very strongly."
Confusingly, Trump also tweeted that he wants to have a "good relationship" with Russia.
"When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!"
Trump arrived in Manila, Philippines, on Sunday, and is scheduled to attend a dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This last stop on his 12-day trip will include a meeting with yet another controversial leader, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.