WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer Tuesday suggested that the Trump White House remove the image of Kim Jong Un from a commemorative coin marking the Korean dictator's planned summit with President Trump.
"I urge the White House to take Kim off the coin," Schumer, a New York Democrat, said via Twitter. "Challenge coins are a time honored tradition and certainly appropriate in this situation, but Kim Jong Un’s face has no place on this coin. He is a brutal dictator."
The White House Communications Agency, a military unit, traditionally prepares commemorative coins for important diplomatic events such as the planned meeting between Trump and Kim.
Those coins rarely cause controversy, but then again, they don't typically feature dictators who go by the title "Supreme Leader," which is just what Kim is called on the coin.
Schumer suggested that a picture of the Inter-Korean Peace House and the Unification Pavilion, where North and South Korean diplomats meet, would be more appropriate to the pictured on the coin.
I urge the White House to take Kim off the coin. Challenge coins are a time honored tradition and certainly appropriate in this situation, but Kim Jong Un’s face has no place on this coin. He is a brutal dictator and something like the Peace House would be much more appropriate. https://t.co/ZHUKVqW7yN
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 22, 2018
Responding to a growing controversy over the coin, a White House spokesman absolved Trump of any involvement in its development.
"The White House did not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin," Raj Shah, White House deputy press secretary, said in a statement.
The White House Communications Agency has commissioned commemorative coins for diplomatic events since 2003, Shah said. They are available for sale to the general public.
Shah's statement came with a photo of several recent commemorative coins. But it appears that most of them do not include illustrations of heads of state like the Trump-Kim Jong Un coin.
Schumer was by no means the only person to criticize the White House for issuing a commemorative coin that appears to honor a repressive regime.
"Zany doesn't begin to describe it," tweeted Mark Thompson, a national security analyst at the Project on Government Oversight.
Bill Kristol, editor at large at the conservative Weekly Standard, noted on Twitter that the coin is premature, given that it's unclear that the Trump-Kim summit will even take place.
Beyond that, Kristol said the coin "captures the Trump presidency's spirit of dime-store authoritarianism – at once farcical and creepy, belligerently undignified and un-republican. And, yes, deeply un-American."