By Brett Samuels The Hill
NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman gave an emotional, bizarre TV interview on Tuesday reacting to the highly anticipated summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat and sunglasses, Rodman, who has personally visited North Korea multiple times, spoke for roughly 20 minutes about his relationship with Kim and his expectations for the historic meeting between the two leaders as it got underway in Singapore. He began to cry about halfway through the interview, periodically dabbing his nose with a tissue.
“We have really put ourselves on the line to reach out to North Korea and they have been so gracious to me, my family and the United States. So let’s make this happen. If Trump can pull this off, more power to him,” Rodman said on CNN.
Rodman found himself in a rare position as the summit came together, having met both leaders. He appeared on Trump’s television show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” and has made several trips to North Korea.
Rodman traveled to Singapore ahead of the summit, though he is not expected to play a role in the meeting between the two leaders, the first between a sitting U.S. president and North Korean leader. Trump said last week Rodman is “a nice guy,” but was not invited in an official capacity.
On Monday, Rodman talked about “falling in love” with the people and culture of North Korea, and described Kim as “a good friend.”
“This guy wants to be around the world,” he said. “He wants to come to America and enjoy his life. He wants his people to enjoy this life.”
Rodman’s interview took place moments after Trump and Kim shook hands to begin the summit. The two men posed for photos before proceeding to a one-on-one meeting, joined only by their translators.
“I feel really great,” Trump said. “It’s going to be a great discussion and, I think, tremendous success.”
The two leaders were joined later by officials from their respective administrations. The meeting was expected to last a few hours in total, with Trump and Kim both departing Singapore Tuesday night local time.
The U.S. has been pushing for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, though in recent days Trump has indicated he views the summit as a way to start a dialogue with Kim.
Rodman said Kim understands “bits and pieces of English,” and described him as “more like a big kid even though he is small.”
He added that he did not wish to get into the politics of Kim’s human rights record. The North Korean leader is accused of having family members murdered and starving his people.
Rodman became particularly emotional as he recalled returning home from his from first trip to North Korea. He said he was chastised for making the trip, and was rebuffed by the White House when he sought to relay messages from Kim to then-President Barack Obama.
“Everybody came at me and I am still standing,” Rodman said, tears streaking down his face from behind his sunglasses. “And today is a great day for everybody. I’m so happy.”