Donald Trump boasted about Kim Jong Un giving him a "graphic account" of how he had killed his own uncle, according to an explosive new book.
The US President told the journalist Bob Woodward the North Korean despot "tells me everything" during a series of recorded interviews.
In the Washington Post associate editor's new book Rage, Mr Trump claimed Kim described how he murdered his uncle by firing squad before allegedly putting his head on display for others to see.
General Jang Song-thaek was subjected to a firing squad on his dictator nephew's orders, while earlier reports suggested his body was then stripped naked and fed to dogs.
The US president is currently grappling with the fallout from the book after he was recorded speaking frankly about the dangers posed by coronavirus and admitting he had tried to downplay the dangers to the public.
Mr Trump told Mr Woodward that the CIA has "no idea" how to handle Pyongyang and dismissed criticism about his three meetings with Kim, claiming the summits were no big deal.
Critics said that by meeting Kim, Mr Trump provided the North Korean leader with legitimacy on the world stage.
"It takes me two days. I met. I gave up nothing," said the president, who likened North Korea's attachment to its nuclear arsenal to somebody who is in love with a house and "they just can't sell it."
Kim welcomed Mr Trump's attention, calling the president "your excellency" in a letter. Kim wrote to Mr Trump that he believed the "deep and special friendship between us will work as a magical force."
But Mr Trump also told Mr Woodward about rising tensions in 2017 between the US and North Korea, boasting about a secret weapons system that other countries have not heard about.
He said: "I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody's ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven't even seen or heard about. We have stuff that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Chinese President Jinping) Xi have never heard about before. There's nobody — what we have is incredible."
It comes as Mr Trump praised the North Korean leader as well as Russian leader Vladimir Putin at an election rally in Michigan on Thursday night.
The president is resuming an aggressive campaign schedule, despite growing resistance from local leaders who have expressed alarm at his insistence on holding large-scale rallies during a pandemic.
He told the crowds that Kim is “a smart guy. Very smart guy. Smart. We get along."
On Putin, he said: "He likes me. I like him, [he’s] not so bad."
“You know, getting along with foreign powers is not a bad thing, we’re trying to teach that that to the media and these idiots that ran the government for so many years, these fools,” he argued. “These fools.”
“‘He gets along with Putin, that’s a terrible thing’ — no, it’s a good thing if I get along, that’s good,” Mr Trump claimed.
“‘He gets along with King Jong-Un, that’s a terrible thing’ — no, it’s a good thing,” he argued. “It’s okay not to go to war, it’s okay.”
But the backlash against Mr Trump continues in the wake of the book's excerpts.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in a virtual fundraiser: "Donald Trump knew all along just how deadly this virus is. He knew and purposefully played it down because all he was concerned about was his re-election, didn't want to affect economic growth."
Congress' top Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, set the party's theme on the subject: "Trump lied and people died."
But Mr Trump, answering questions at the White House, insisted "there was no lie" in his often-dismissive public comments about the virus last February and March.
He noted that he had limited travel from China, where the virus apparently originated, "so, obviously, outwardly I said it's a very serious problem. ... That doesn't mean I'm going to jump up and down in the air and start saying 'people are going to die, people are going to die."'