Trump says North Korea is "maybe more important" than better trade deal with China

WASHINGTON -- President Trump said China's help in dealing with North Korea is "worth making not as good a trade deal for the United States."

"I think that, frankly, North Korea is maybe more important than trade," he said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation." "Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade."

"Now, if China can help us with North Korea and can solve that problem… that's worth making not as good a trade deal" for the U.S., he said.

Mr. Trump said he thinks "that China does have reasonably good powers over North Korea" -- maybe not "ultimate" powers, "but pretty good powers," he said.

Mr. Trump's remarks came after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile last week -- a launch that apparently failed. 

The president also addressed criticism over an apparent shift from his campaign, when he said that he would label China a manipulator on day one in office. Earlier this month, Mr. Trump said China isn't a currency manipulator after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping about North Korea. In his "Face the Nation" interview, Mr. Trump claimed that China stopped manipulating currency "as soon as" he was elected. 

"And I would say that I was the one that got them to stop," he said, but also emphasized that now is not the time to disparage China.

"Can you imagine if I say, 'Hey, by the way, how are you doing with North Korea? Also, we're going to announce that you're a currency manipulator tomorrow,'" Mr. Trump said, circling back to criticism of the media. "So the mainstream media never talks about that. They never say that."

Additional coverage of the interview with Mr. Trump from inside the White House will air Monday on "CBS This Morning."

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.