Former basketball star Dennis Rodman, best known in the 21st century as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s most outspoken friend in the Western world, claimed on Monday that Kim had a “change of heart” about his nuclear program after reading President Donald Trump’s 1987 book, Trump: The Art of the Deal.
In an interview with TMZ, Rodman recalled presenting Kim with that very copy of Trump’s magnum opus during his June 2017 trip to Pyongyang. He gave the Trump book and some other gifts to North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il-guk, who looked as if Rodman had just handed him a live tarantula but presumably passed along The Art of the Deal to Kim Jong-un.
“I think he didn’t realize who Donald Trump was at that time,” Rodman said of Kim. “I guess it felt good to read that book. It felt good to understand him, stuff like that.”
“I don’t want to take all the credit,” Rodman said modestly. “I don’t want to sit there and say, ‘I did this. I did that.’ That’s not my intention. My intention was to try to go over there and be a sports ambassador to North Korea so that people understand how they are in North Korea. I think it has resonated into this whole point now.”
“I don’t ask Donald Trump for anything. I like Donald Trump. He’s a good friend,” Rodman clarified. He claimed he was asked by the government of North Korea to “talk to Donald Trump about what they want and how we could solve things.”
Rodman said Trump was aware of his trips to North Korea long before he became president and judged it would be a “great thing” for him to continue going there as a sort of unofficial goodwill ambassador and barometer of Kim Jong-un’s mood.
“All of a sudden, people are calling me and asking, ‘Why aren’t you getting the credit because you’re the one who brought awareness of everything about the hostages and about the people that are over there? And all of a sudden, he started letting people go,’” Rodman claimed, presumably referring to North Korea’s release of captive student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after his release.
Rodman said his response to those who believe he deserves credit for the diplomatic opening to North Korea is, “I’m not the president. I’m just one person. I’m so happy that things are going well.”