Reince Defends Duterte Invite

Cortney O'Brien
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Posted: May 01, 2017 1:00 PM
Reince Defends Duterte Invite

As soon as President Trump invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, critics pointed out the leader's controversial comments about leaders like President Obama, whom he once told to "go to hell." He also once compared himself to Hitler, noting he'd be happy to slaughter millions of drug addicts. 

Despite Duterte's disturbing rhetoric, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is defending the invitation, noting that keeping Duterte close is important as we deal with the threat of North Korea.

"This is a different level of problem that we need cooperation among our partners in Southeast Asia," Priebus told ABC's Jonathan Karl on "This Week." "The issue on the table is North Korea, and there is nothing right now facing this country and facing the region that is a bigger threat than what's happening in North Korea."

The White House's extended hand to Duterte "doesn't mean that human rights don't matter," Priebus said. It means the U.S. is taking necessary steps to cooperate with partners during a potential North Korea crisis.