Bernie Sanders on Trump’s North Korea Trip: Don’t Turn This Into a ‘Reality Show’

March 9, 2018, 9:24 PM UTC

AUSTIN, Texas—President Trump’s announcement Thursday evening that he will be meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been dominating the headlines for most of Friday, but at least one U.S. leader isn’t impressed.

Speaking at the SXSW Conference here on Friday afternoon, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) said that while the meeting with the dictator is a “step forward” in diplomatic relations with North Korea, he is wary that the president’s announcement is a publicity stunt. “I don’t want to just see a TV show,” Sanders said of the upcoming meeting—which, if it happens, would be historic. (No sitting American president has met with a leader with the Asian nation.)

Trump made the groundbreaking announcement in typical Trump fashion—on Twitter—and said that “great progress” was being made, but that “sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached.” The final three words of the tweet have the Internet up in arms: “Meeting being planned!”

Trump’s positive outlook on relations with Kim Jong Un is a marked departure from social media taunts in November of last year, in which he called Kim “Little Rocket Man” and noted that his people and military “put up with living in such horrible conditions.”

Kim then called Trump a “lunatic and loser.

For his part, Sanders, a presidential contender in the 2016 election, said that he is “very worried about North Korea’s nuclear capability” and seemed skeptical that Trump is taking diplomacy seriously.

“We don’t even have an ambassador to South Korea,” said Sanders, likely referring to the fact that the nomination of Victor Cha, Trump’s original pick, was rescinded last month after Cha expressed opposition to the administration’s proposal for a military strike. “Trump is dismembering the State Department.”