White House transcript reveals confused exchange between Trump and US officials as they try to figure out whether someone took notes during his meeting with Kim Jong Un

US President Donald Trump answers a final question while departing a press conference following his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un June 12, 2018 in Singapore.

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US President Donald Trump answers a final question while departing a press conference following his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un June 12, 2018 in Singapore.
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

  • President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to discuss whether notes were taken from a one-on-one meeting with Kim Jong Un during a press conference.
  • The exchange was recorded in the White House’s transcript for the Singapore press conference on Tuesday.
  • Trump asks, apparently referring to Secretary of State Pompeo: “Mike, do they have a transcript?” before telling a reporter “No, they didn’t record it. I don’t think they recorded it. Are there any recordings of it?”
  • The US interpreter who was with the president will create the official notes from the meeting, but Trump reassured press saying he doesn’t need verification because he has “one of the great memories of all time.”

President Donald Trump and US officials seem confused over whether notes were taken during Trump’s private meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday.

After the two leaders signed a joint statement, Trump gave a wide-ranging press conference. During this time, according to a White House transcript, Trump and a person he refers to as “Mike,” thought to be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appeared to be unsure whether notes were taken during a 38-minute one-on-one meeting with Kim earlier in the day.

This is the White House’s official transcript, which was emailed to news outlets including Business Insider on Tuesday, featuring the second-to-last series of questions Trump responded to:

Q: Is there a transcript of (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: What?

Q: Is there a transcript of (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: Mike, do they have a transcript? They probably have a rough transcript, which you can give us, if you have one.

Q: So that was recorded?

THE PRESIDENT: No, they didn’t record it. I don’t think they recorded it. Are there any recordings of it? I wish there were. Because it is interesting stuff.

Q: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: Say it?

Q: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t. We probably have some notes or something. But they have, actually, detailed notes, I would imagine. But we had a great conversation. It was a very heart-felt conversation.

Q: How do you believe (inaudible) verify –

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t have to verify because I have one of the great memories of all time. So I don’t have to. Okay? Okay?

It appears that during the press conference, Trump asks Pompeo if a recording was made, to which the answer seems to be “no.” Trump then said he wished it could have been recorded.

Without a recording, the closest thing the Trump administration will have to a transcript of Kim’s time alone with Trump are the notes of the US interpreter.

This person will turn their notes, taken while also translating for Trump, and format them into a Memorandum of Conversation. It seems this document, which could just be a summary of the discussion, will be provided to Pompeo and the US National Archives as the only official record of the meeting.

While this is standard practice, it is less common for US administrations to be unclear about whether a recording was even taken. It’s also unprecedented for the full recollections of a crucial meeting between world leaders, to be left up to Trump, who is widely known to frequently exaggerate the truth.