Ellison Regrets Remark that Kim Jong-un 'More Responsible' Than Trump: 'It's Tailor-made for Somebody to Misuse'

Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) of the Congressional Progressive Caucus / Getty Images
August 12, 2017

Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) quickly walked back remarks he made Friday that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was acting "more responsible" than President Donald Trump, saying it was "tailor-made for somebody to misuse."

Ellison, the Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, initially made the comment at a panel during the left-wing activist gathering Netroots Nation in Atlanta, Georgia.

Discussing the escalating war of words between the U.S. and North Korea over the latter's rogue nuclear program, Ellison raised eyebrows by saying the North Korea's despotic leader was acting better than the U.S. president.

"You have this guy [Trump] making bellicose threats against somebody else who has very little to lose over there," Ellison said. "Kim Jong-un, the world always thought he was not a responsible leader. Well, he's acting more responsible than this guy is."

The remarks drew outrage, and in an interview after the panel with the Washington Post, Ellison went into damage control.

"That was one of those I wish I’d not said," Ellison said. "It’s tailor-made for somebody to misuse. I’d say he’s being incredibly irresponsible and he’s putting us in a situation where you could have an accidental launch. I mean, his rhetoric might make Kim Jong-un think that he needs to strike first. What we need is someone bringing calm to the situation, not spiking it."

Trump said this week that "fire and fury" would come down on North Korea if it continued its dangerous behavior, and he said Friday Kim would "regret it fast" if he carried through on a threat to attack the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.