The fate of President Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un remains uncertain after a series of provocative statements from North Korea. But even if history isn’t made, a commemorative coin created by members of a White House military unit forever memorializes what could have been.
Members of the White House Communications Agency, which provides a range of communications support to US presidents, created and issued a commemorative coin featuring Trump and Kim’s likeness with the words “PEACE TALKS” above them.
The coin quickly sparked controversy amid questions about the White House’s role in creating it and criticism that it featured Kim’s likeness and referred to him as “Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un,” his official North Korean title.
But the coin – which members of the White House Communications Agency create for every presidential trip abroad – was not created or approved by the White House nor was it paid for using government funds.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement that members of the military unit have manufactured the coins since 2003 and that they are available for purchase. (The coins are also traded by law enforcement, military members and others.)
“Since 2003, White House Communications Agency members have ordered a limited number of commercially designed and manufactured souvenir travel coins for purchase,” Shah said. “These coins are designed, manufactured and made by an American coin manufacturer. These souvenir coins are only ordered after a trip has been publicly announced. The White House did not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin.”
Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore and US officials are continuing to prepare for the summit, but administration officials have grown increasingly skeptical that the summit will come to fruition amid North Korean threats last week to pull out because of US military exercises.