It sounds like a bizarro Disney movie, but it is reality: As recently as March, the only person who'd ever met both President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was flame-tressed, nasally pierced former NBA star Dennis Rodman.
Now, the American president is having an unprecedented face-to-face meeting with Kim in Singapore on June 12. Naturally, Rodman is planning to come along.
Will he be at the negotiating table? The White House press corps wondered. Will he attend as a singular ego-to-ego translator, greasing the way for nuclear détente?
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If Rodman goes, which is not certain, he will be there to promote a product called PotCoin, a "community-based cryptocurrency for legalized marijuana," reported Trey Yingst, White House correspondent for One America News Network, yesterday.
"A lot of times in situations that involve complex diplomacy, countries like to identify ambassadors of goodwill, and whether you agree with it or not, Dennis Rodman fits the bill," a "source close to Rodman" told the New York Post. The former Celebrity Apprentice star and longtime Kim friend "could even play some sort of role in the negotiations," the paper said.
A brief history of the Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un friendship
Rodman has been visiting Kim since 2013, practicing what he called "basketball diplomacy." The two bonded over the North Korean leader's love of hoops. But U.S. officials distanced the government from Rodman's trips, and he was roundly criticized for hanging with Kim instead of pushing to have American hostages released.
Sitting U.S. presidents have refused to meet directly with Kim so as not to legitimize his brutal, belligerent regime.
After a 2013 visit, Rodman suggested that he and Trump (then just the Apprentice host) return to North Korea to meet with Kim. In May 2014, Rodman told DuJour magazine that Trump "wanted to go. He wanted to give me his plane to go over there. Then all of sudden he started to get all weird and s**t."
Trump replied via Tweet: "Crazy Dennis Rodman is saying I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Never discussed, no interest, last place on Earth I want to go to."
Then he tweeted a follow-up: "Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when he said I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!"
But Rodman persisted. On his last trip to see Kim in December 2017, he presented North Korean leadership with a copy of Trump's 1987 book "The Art of the Deal." In December, he asked Trump to send him to North Korea as a peace envoy. He told Agence France-Presse that Trump and Kim are "pretty much the same people... They love control. Ain't nobody got no finger on the button."
Yesterday Darren Prince, a spokesman for Rodman, told the "Post" that the trip hadn't been confirmed but he'd be happy to go if needed.
Trump and Kim are scheduled to meet at Singapore's luxury Sentosa Resort on June 12 at 9am Singapore time, or June 11 at 9pm New York time.