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Kristi Noem on retraction: Kim Jong Un ‘should not be in the book’


(NewsNation) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem acknowledged removing a reference to meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from her book, wavering when pressed on whether it was inaccurate during an interview on NewsNation’s “Elizabeth Vargas Reports.”

Noem, a Republican considered a potential 2024 vice presidential pick, avoided directly admitting the claim was untrue when asked about the retraction. But after numerous follow-ups, the governor said, “This anecdote I should not have put in the book. And I asked (the publishers) to have it taken out, and it is.”

Noem’s book has faced scrutiny for including the anecdote describing her meeting the North Korean leader while traveling during her days in Congress. After multiple reports raised questions about its accuracy, a spokesperson for her office said Kim “was included in a list of world leaders and shouldn’t have been.”

The Associated Press noted that Noem traveled to China, Japan and South Korea as part of a congressional delegation in 2014.

Noem defended not initially copping to the inaccuracy, saying, “I don’t talk about personal meetings with world leaders.” She said she “took responsibility for it” and that “the buck stops with me.”

Mike Pence and Donald Trump

Vargas asked Noem if former President Mike Pence did the right thing by refusing former President Donald Trump‘s request to reject the 2020 election results. Noem avoided directly answering, saying, “I don’t answer hypothetical questions” because “the law has been changed” since then.

She also criticized Pence for not endorsing Trump.

“Mike Pence not endorsing President Trump right now, he’s basically endorsing Joe Biden. And that’s just hard for me to believe,” she said.

When asked if she’s still in the running to be Trump’s 2024 vice presidential pick after attending a GOP event with potential VP candidates, Noem said, “I don’t know. I’ve told President Trump that he needs to make sure that he picks someone who helps him win.”

She said she wants Trump “to be successful. I’ll do all I can to be helpful with that.”

Border, tribal reservations and rural land

Noem alleged Native American tribal leaders in her state are allowing drug cartels to operate on reservations with impunity, contributing to the national border crisis.

She said three reservations in South Dakota have banned her from visiting after she said cartels are trafficking drugs and humans from the reservations.

“We have the cartels set up in South Dakota,” Noem said, adding that a cartel member reportedly kidnapped an FBI agent in the state.

She accused tribal presidents and councils of protecting the cartels because “I have no jurisdiction there” on reservations. Noem said she has offered to help enforce laws, but tribal leaders retaliated by “banning me” instead of the cartels.

“Why don’t you ban the cartels, the ones who are trafficking the drugs, who are abusing your children and your women and trafficking them?” Noem challenged.

Noem said the cartels’ presence shows the border crisis extends beyond southern states, alleging “dangerous criminals” and people on “terrorist watch lists” are entering the U.S. illegally.

On immigration, Noem backed Trump’s proposal for “the largest deportation in American history” of those who entered illegally. She criticized the Biden administration for “violating federal law” on border security.

Noem also accused the Chinese government of buying up rural land to control the U.S. food supply, calling it a grave national security threat that must be addressed.

“Most of our packing plants are owned by Chinese entities or Chinese investors,” Noem stated. “And now they’re coming in and buying up our land as well.”

She alleged that it is part of China’s long-running strategy to make the U.S. dependent on imported food as a means of control. Noem argued that past policies aimed to ensure America could feed itself for national security reasons.

“If we think a pandemic was scary, I can’t imagine what it would be like if we let China control our food supply,” she warned. “We should own our land. It’s in our best interest to have small family farms out on the land growing our food for us.”

Dog story fallout

Noem stood by her controversial decision to include an anecdote about shooting and killing her family’s dog for poor behavior years ago in her book “No Going Back” despite criticism the story was a political misstep.

The Republican governor said she wanted to be upfront about the “painful” choice rather than shying away from it like most politicians would.

“This book is filled with vulnerable stories, painful decisions that I’ve had,” Noem said. “And at that point in time, I had a decision between the protection of my children and the people that were in our lives and a dangerous animal that was killing livestock and attacking people.”

Noem pushed back on suggestions that rehashing the dog shooting was a political error given polls show 65 million U.S. households own pets. She said most elected officials would “run from the truth” and difficult decisions.

“I don’t do either of those,” Noem asserted. “I wanted them to know the truth. I wanted them to hear it in my words.”

NewsNation affiliate The Hill contributed to this report.