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Opinion In private remarks, Trump opines on North Korea, Afghanistan and catapults

President Trump offers a toast during the annual Governors’ Dinner at the White House on Feb. 26. (Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
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President Trump shared his insights on Kim Jong Un, terrorists in Afghanistan and the Navy’s plan to upgrade its catapult system on aircraft carriers in private remarks Tuesday night to a group of high-dollar donors.

Over lengthy remarks, the president recalled how he came to reverse course on deploying troops to Afghanistan, calling that country “the Wharton school of finance for terrorists,” referring to his alma mater. Trump also praised his own handling of the North Korea nuclear crisis, touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and explained how he came up with his latest nickname for Kim Jong Un.

Although Trump called Kim “Rocket Man” in his first address to the United Nations, he thought it was not an insult and could even be seen as a compliment, Trump said at the dinner, according to attendees. But after Kim issued a statement calling Trump a “dotard,” Trump upped the ante.

“So I said, all right, so now I’ll call him Little Rocket Man,” Trump said.

Attendees passed along remarks Trump made on various foreign policy issues around the world. According to Politico, which reported on Trump’s comments about the NFL, tickets to the dinner sold for between $35,000 and $250,000 a couple and attendees included donors, Republican Party officials and Trump’s two eldest sons.

Regarding North Korea, Trump said that the problem should have been solved years ago but that he would take care of it nonetheless. The president credited his close ties to Xi for producing China’s recent announcement that it would curtail banking relationships with North Korea.

President Trump says U.S. military action against North Korea “would be devastating.” (Video: Reuters)

“He’s probably the most powerful [Chinese leader] in 100 years,” Trump told the attendees.

Trump retold the story of how their friendship was forged at Mar-a-Lago in April and said the relationship enabled Trump to ask Xi for help cutting off North Korea’s financial access.

“He did that because I asked him, please do that,” Trump said. “So he does things. Relationship is everything.”

Touting his intention to cut costs in wasteful military spending, Trump criticized the Navy’s program to replace its steam-based catapult system on aircraft carriers with a digital one. He compared the digital catapult system, called the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, to the digital seat controls in a car.

“It’s like when you get a new car and you have to be a computer genius to fix your seat, right?” he said. “The seat’s moving all over the place, it’s unbelievable.”

On Afghanistan, Trump said he had wanted to stop spending money on the war there altogether but was convinced by his generals that due to the large number of terrorist organizations there, withdrawing was not a safe option.

After being shown classified information by his generals, Trump concluded that the United States has no choice but to “knock the s— out of them,” meaning the terrorists in Afghanistan, otherwise there would be another attack similar to 9/11.

“The World Trade Center people were trained in Afghanistan,” said Trump. “It’s like the Wharton school of finance for terrorism.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Trump’s remarks.