Trump Threatens to Send Reporter to Prison Over Photo of Kim Jong Un’s Birthday Letter

Trump Threatens to Send Reporter to Prison Over Photo of Kim Jong Un’s Birthday Letter

President Trump threatened a reporter for Time with prison during an interview for the magazine’s recent cover story about his re-election effort.

What, you may ask, was the reporter’s crime? Stealing classified documents? Publishing evidence of presidential criminality?

Nope, the alleged crime was that the president thought the reporter had taken a picture of a birthday letter North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had sent to Trump.

Trump had brought out the letter about halfway through the interview after the reporter tried to press him on his oft-repeated and false claim that North Korea has been repatriating the remains of American soldiers who died in the Korean War. In response, Trump tried to use the letter to prove that he has a great relationship with Kim.

Then a bit later, after the reporter had apparently not handed the letter back fast enough, Trump said this:

“Excuse me — Under Section II — Well, you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you — […]

Confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it — So don’t play that game with me.”

He really, really was obsessed with the letter.

When the reporter asked if Trump had just threatened him with prison time, the president went off:

“Well, I told you the following. I told you you can look at this off-the-record. That doesn’t mean you take out your camera and start taking pictures of it. O.K.? So I hope you don’t have a picture of it…You can’t do that stuff. So go have fun with your story. Because I’m sure it will be the 28th horrible story I have in TIME Magazine because I never — I mean — ha. It’s incredible. With all I’ve done and the success I’ve had, the way that TIME Magazine writes is absolutely incredible.”

In context, he seems to have gotten agitated by some tough questions, which led to lashing out about something completely minor and unrelated in a way intended to reassert his own power. Over a birthday card.

Read the full interview here.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.