President Trump’s been getting to spend plenty of time with his BFF, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, during a summit of Southeast Asian nations and on Monday seemed to laugh right along with Duterte as he unironically referred to the reporters present as “spies.”
According to the White House pool dispatch before the bilateral meeting, reporters tried to start asking questions of the two presidents before Duterte declared they would be taking no questions.
“We are not answering, this is not a press statement…We are in a bilateral meeting,” the Philippine president said. “We will be discussing matters that are of interest to both the Philippines and…with you around, guys, you are the spies.”
“Hah, hah, hah,” Trump said, laughing along.
Duterte repeated: “You are.”
Trump laughs as Duterte shuts down questions.
You are the spies," Duterte says, referring to press.
“Hah, hah, hah," Trump laughs.
“You are," Duterte repeateds, per WH pool.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) November 13, 2017
It’s hardly a laughing matter coming from Duterte, who’s championed a bloody drug war in the country that’s resulted in the extrajudicial killings at least 6,000 people and previously bragged about committing murders himself as a young man.
Asked later if the two leaders talked about those widespread human rights abuses, the two parties couldn’t get their story straight, with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders saying the topic “briefly came up” while Duterte’s spokesman told CNN it “was not brought up.”