In a press conference on Thursday morning, Trump tried to put a positive spin on events, just hours after his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen labelled him a “racist”, a “conman” and a “cheat” in explosive testimony to Congress.
He said the talks had collapsed because North Korea had asked for sanctions to be lifted. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that ... we had to walk away from it.
“Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.
“It was a friendly walk.”
The United Nations and the United States ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea when the reclusive state undertook a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests in 2017.
When asked about Cohen’s testimony, Trump said he had “lied a lot” but then decided that he was telling the truth when he said there had been “no collusion” with Russia.
The president also appeared to take Kim’s word over the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died after being released from North Korean captivity in 2017.
The US Intelligence community said the North Korean government “brutally tortured Otto Warmbier, leading directly to his tragic death” but on Thursday Trump once again appeared to dismiss his own intelligence agencies.
He said: “I don’t believe Kim would have allowed that to happen. He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.”
It echoed Trump’s insistence that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when he told him Russia did not interfere with the 2016 presidential election –despite his intelligence agencies conclusively concluding that it did.
Both Trump and Kim left the venue of their talks, the French-colonial-era Metropole hotel, without attending a planned lunch together, and returned to their hotels.
But Trump said Kim had assured him he will continue to hold off on nuclear and missile tests, Reuters reported.
Since their first summit in Singapore in June, Trump has stressed the good chemistry he has with Kim, but there have been questions about whether the bonhomie could move them beyond summit pageantry to substantive progress on eliminating a North Korean nuclear arsenal.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the leaders had a “very good and constructive meeting” and discussed ways to advance “denuclearisation and economic-driven concepts”.
She said their teams “look forward to meeting in the future”.
While Trump had said he was in “no rush” to strike a deal with North Korea, and wanted to do the right deal with Kim, the White House had been confident enough to schedule a “joint agreement signing ceremony” at the conclusion of talks.
There was no indication of when Trump and Kim might meet again but the White House said the “respective teams look forward to meeting in the future”.