Trump Thought Elton John Would Love His Rocket Man Gift to Kim

Trump Thought Elton John Would Love His Rocket Man Gift to Kim

In the summer of 2018, the president spent an immoderate amount of time fixating on delivering a Donald Trump-signed CD featuring Elton John’s 1972 hit “Rocket Man” to Kim Jong Un. But he wasn’t only trying to please the North Korean dictator with a disc that included a track with a song title of the nickname he’d given him. Trump also thought it would bring a smile to the face of his estranged friend—Sir Elton John himself.

According to the new book by former national security adviser John Bolton, Trump made the delivery of the disc to the totalitarian North Korean leader a diplomatic priority, following his high-profile 2018 Singapore summit with Kim. The president is a massive Elton John fan who had reportedly heard from Kim that he had never heard the song “Rocket Man.” So, naturally, Trump wanted to give the supreme leader a recording and advised his Secretary of State to make the delivery.  

“Trump didn’t seem to realize [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hadn’t actually seen Kim Jong Un [during Pompeo’s follow-up overseas trip], asking if Pompeo had handed” the autographed CD to Kim, Bolton wrote. “Pompeo had not. Getting this CD to Kim remained a high priority for several months.”

The small detail in the upcoming book underscored Trump’s penchant for preoccupying himself with minutiae and personal infatuations, even in the context of high-stakes international negotiations over nuclear weapons arsenals.

But according to two people with knowledge of President Trump’s private remarks at the time, he also believed that Elton John would appreciate the overture because it would give the musician’s work additional publicity and international media attention.

“The president said something like, ‘Boy, I bet Elton will get a kick out of this!’” said a former senior Trump administration official. “It seemed like he hadn’t spoken to [Elton John] in a while…I know from my conversations with the president that he finds it regrettable that he and Elton John haven’t been closer during his presidency.”

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