President Donald Trump spent Memorial Day weekend in Japan, where ― despite being an ocean away ― he seemed more than a little preoccupied with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Trump set the tone Sunday with a tweet in which he both downplayed recent North Korean short-range missile tests and parroted a recent piece of North Korean propaganda attacking the former vice president.
Now that Memorial Day has passed and Trump is headed back to the U.S., Biden’s team has responded.
“The president’s comments are beneath the dignity of the office,” deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
For comparison’s sake, here’s Trump’s original tweet, which he sent early Sunday local time, just prior to joining Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a round of golf and watching a few sumo wrestling matches. (And here’s more on the anti-Biden propaganda piece, released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency last week.)
The next day, Trump again parroted the North Korean propaganda in a press conference. He was asked by a reporter, “Does it give you pause at all to be appearing to side with a brutal dictator instead of with a fellow American — the former vice president, Joe Biden?”
Trump responded: “Well, Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-IQ individual. He probably is, based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.”
The comments even prompted criticism from Trump’s fellow Republicans. Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) tweeted a helpful reminder that it’s “never right to side with murderous dictator vs. fellow American.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a military veteran who served in Iraq, agreed with King’s assessment.
The president followed up his North Korean endorsement by sending a puzzling series of tweets on Memorial Day attacking Biden for the then-senator’s support of the 1994 crime bill. That legislation has been criticized for encouraging the disproportionate incarceration of people of color and President Bill Clinton has apologized for signing it into law. But any criticism from Trump is woefully misplaced, especially given his role in whipping up public anger against the (wrongly accused) Central Park Five just a few years earlier.
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