Dennis Rodman gifts Trump book to North Korean minister
Dennis Rodman may not have been sent to North Korea by U.S. President Donald Trump, but that’s not stopping the former basketball star from promoting his former reality TV co-star.
Rodman, who landed in Pyongyang Tuesday, was photographed presenting North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il Guk with a copy of Trump’s book, “Trump: The Art of the Deal.”
The NBA Hall of Famer is perhaps the only person in the world who has personal relationships with both the U.S. president — he participated on Trump’s pre-presidency reality TV show, “The Celebrity Apprentice” — and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.
Rodman has called Kim a “friend for life” and previously said that his relationship with the young leader — who’s been accused of executing hundreds of people to cement his authority — is primarily about basketball, not politics.
The five-time NBA champion has traveled to North Korea for informal “basketball diplomacy” a handful of times in the past and told CNN earlier this week at the airport in Beijing he hoped to do “something that’s pretty positive” before he boarded a plane bound for the reclusive state.
A U.S. national security spokesman, Michael Anton, told CNN Rodman was not acting as a representative of the U.S. government or President Donald Trump and stated that he does not believe the President has spoken to Rodman since he entered office.
Rodman arrived in Pyongyang the same day news broke that Otto Warmbier, an American who spent more than 17 months detained in North Korea, was released. Anton said there is no connection between Rodman’s visit and Warmbier’s release.
The basketball star’s visit is expected to last four nights. It’s unclear if he and Kim will meet in person.