“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-Un,” Trump was quoted as telling The Wall Street Journal in an interview on Thursday, refusing to confirm whether the two had spoken.
“I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”
But Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted — in a Twitter meme — that Trump was misquoted.
Mockingly mimicking the newspaper’s front page, it then reads “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL — FAKE NEWS IS AT IT AGAIN! — FALSELY QUOTING PRESIDENT TRUMP.”
Washington and Pyongyang are in a standoff over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, which could be used to target the United States and its allies.
Trump has repeatedly insulted the North Korean leader, describing him as mad and a “rocket man.”
WATCH: What happens if President Trump pushes his (bigger) nuclear launch button?
Asked if he had spoken to Kim, Trump said “I don’t want to comment on it. I’m not saying I have or haven’t. I just don’t want to comment.”
Trump suggested his variable position on individuals was part of a broader strategy.
But it was not clear how his remarks fit with his self-described policy of “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.
Next week, the United States and Canada are to host a meeting on the nuclear standoff with North Korea in Vancouver, bringing together friendly powers from around the world.