When CNN needed to find a voice to react to the historic meeting between North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, its bookers turned to one man who knew both leaders personally: Dennis Rodman.
In a bizarre, emotional interview on CNN on Monday, the mercurial former NBA star broke down in tears while praising the meeting between the two leaders. He also noted his own tumultuous history with North Korea.
Sporting a red Make America Great Again hat, large tinted sunglasses, and a T-shirt plugging the cryptocurrency potcoin.com, Rodman recalled how he was chastised for personally befriending Kim during several trips to the hermit kingdom. Rodman had been widely criticized for showering attention and publicity on Kim during those trip. But he claimed he did not know anything about the North Korean regime or its atrocities before he agreed to travel there.
“I kept my head up high, brother,” Rodman said, wiping tears from behind his sunglasses. “I knew things were going to change. I knew it. I was the only one, no one to hear me, no one to see me. But I took those bullets, I took all of that. Everybody came at me, and I am still standing. And today is a great day for everybody, Singapore, China—a great day.”
The man famously nicknamed “The Worm” also offered his take on Kim’s personality and mental state. He said that the North Korean dictator understood English when it came to basketball terms, and opined that Kim was “like a big kid” albeit while being small in actual stature.
Rodman recalled how he offered advice to Kim about how North Korea could improve relations with the United States and vice versa, and offered his take on how the meeting could succeed.
“If Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump understand that if we sit there and have a comfortable relationship, smile, laugh and joke, great,” Rodman said.”It doesn't have to be war. And I know this meeting is going to be a great meeting.”
Though he said that former President Barack Obama’s team “did not give me the time of day” to discuss his trip to North Korea, the former NBA star acknowledged that he’d recently received a call from Trump’s secretary thanking him for his previous visits.
“She called me and said ‘Dennis, Donald Trump is so proud of you, he thanks you a lot,” Rodman said. “And that means a lot. After all these years - that I had something to do with this North Korea situation? But I don’t want to take any credit.”
An agent for Rodman subsequently told CNN that the “secretary” he was referring to was actually White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Sanders did not return a request for confirmation.
Though hardly skilled in international diplomacy or geopolitics, Rodman’s analysis seemed to impress at least one prominent American leader.
Immediately following the interview, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo told former director of national intelligence James Clapper that Rodman was, shockingly, one of the best sources of first-person information into Kim’s thinking.
“I agree, Chris,” Clapper said. “There’s a lot more depth there than meets the eye.”