UPDATE: Though Chosun Media reported that Pompeo would gift an Elton John CD to Kim on the president’s behalf, Trump on Tuesday revealed that Pompeo was not carrying a signed disc containing “Rocket Man” on his trip to North Korea last week. “They didn’t give it. I have it for him. They didn’t give it. But it will be given at a different period,” Trump told reporters before departing for Europe.
“I actually do have a little gift for him, but you’ll find out what that gift is when I give it,” the president added.
President Trump thought he was pretty clever when he dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man” last fall. The moniker is both a reference to Kim’s then-frequent missile tests and the title of a 1972 single by Elton John. The president has long been delighted by his ability to connect these two dots, boasting of the nickname at rallies and tweeting about it several times. Now that Trump has befriended the dictator – whose nuclear program, despite what Trump has said, is still very much a thing – he’s keen to turn the once-spiteful distinction into a term of endearment.
When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left for North Korea Thursday to continue the denuclearization talks, he was carrying with him a gift from the president: A CD containing Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” signed by Donald Trump. South Korea’s Chosun Media reported the news on Thursday. According to a “diplomatic source” in Washington, Trump brought up the “Crocodile Rock” singer while dining with Kim in Singapore. “Trump then asked Kim if he knew the song and Kim said ‘no,'” the source told Chosun.
Bizarrely, this wasn’t the only instance of Sir Elton crossing into Trump’s orbit within the past 24 hours. While speaking to a crowd in Montana Thursday night, Trump abruptly brought up the singer in the middle of tangent about how no one gives him credit for being a great speaker.
“I have broken more Elton John records. He seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No, we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look, I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really, we do it without, like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical – the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth, right? The brain. More important than the mouth is the brain. The brain is much more important.”
A representative for Elton John declined to comment on the president’s remarks.
In addition to ranting about how he is more impressive than Elton John, Trump mocked or insulted a number of distinguished figures and minority groups. As is now customary at Trump’s campaign-style rallies, the president attacked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for not voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, while simultaneously praising himself for being “good at getting things passed.” But McCain wasn’t the only ailing war hero in Trump’s crosshairs. The president also devoted time to criticizing George H.W. Bush’s “thousand points of light” campaign slogan. “What the hell was that, by the way?” Trump wondered.
The president also took a shot at Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) – whom he has taken to calling the “new face” of the Democrats after she suggested people shun Trump officials in public – for having an IQ that probably in the “mid-60s.” (For all of Trump’s talk about IQ, there is no record of him ever taking a test himself.) Trump took standard jabs at other political foes like Barack Obama and “Crooked Hillary,” once again bringing up his 2016 electoral college victory, as well as NATO, the leaders of which he will meet in Belgium next week. “We’re the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing,” he said. “I’ll see NATO and I’ll tell NATO, ‘You’ve got to start paying your bills.’”
Barely a week since five staffers of The Capital Gazette were killed by a lone gunman in Annapolis, Maryland, Trump lashed out at journalists. “Seventy-five percent of [journalists] are downright dishonest. They’re fake,” he said, adding that they are “really bad people.”
At one point, Trump mocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Native Americans and rape victims in a single tangent in which he set the scene of a hypothetical 2020 presidential debate stage where he would attempt to give Warren an on-the-spot ancestry test, being careful to do it “gently” so as to not offend the #MeToo generation.
Trump suggests he would like to test Elizabeth Warren for Native American heritage, "but we have to do it gently because we're in the MeToo generation." pic.twitter.com/kgQ54Lxqbo
— Axios (@axios) July 6, 2018
The #MeToo jab wasn’t even the only time on Thursday that Trump downplayed sexual abuse, of which he has been widely accused. When asked to comment on allegations that Sen. Jim Jordan (R-OH) ignored widespread abuse while he was a member of the Ohio State wrestling program, Trump dismissed the accusations. “I don’t believe them at all,” Trump said. “I believe him. Jim Jordan is one of the most outstanding people I’ve met since I’ve been in Washington. I believe him 100 percent. No question in my mind. I believe Jim Jordan 100 percent. He’s an outstanding man.”
Though he attacked war veterans, Native Americans, rape victims and Sir Elton John, Trump made a point on Thursday to praise authoritarian leaders like Kim (who Trump says would never have met with Obama), Chinese President Xi (“You have to admire him”) and, of course, Vladimir Putin. “You know what? Putin is fine,” the president said. “He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people.”
This story has been updated.