Early last year, President Donald Trump claimed that one of his two greatest assets is "being, like, really smart." Despite Trump's claim, some intelligence officials have reportedly said the president actually displays a "willful ignorance" during intelligence briefings. In fact, intelligence and congressional officials have told Time magazine that Trump thought Nepal and Bhutan were part of India.
Unidentified intelligence officers and congressional officials told Time magazine that Trump wrongly identified both Nepal and Bhutan as belonging to India during a briefing on South Asia. Nepal is, of course, its own independent country (known formally as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal) while Bhutan is an independent Buddhist kingdom. According to Time, the president had to be informed by briefers of the two country's independent status.
Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment.
This isn't the first time Trump's world knowledge has been called into question. In fact, it's not even the first time that reports have surfaced regarding Trump's understanding of Nepal and Bhutan. In August, Politico was the first to report that Trump allegedly mispronounced Nepal as "nipple" and referred to Bhutan as "button" while examining a map of South Asia prior to meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017.
In a statement to Politico, however, the White House claimed that other people present at the time of Trump's supposed slip up did not remember him saying "nipple" and "button." Rather, they claimed the president asked appropriate questions.
But it's not just South Asia that Trump appears to have a lack of awareness about. In April 2017, Trump falsely claimed that "Korea actually used to be a part of China" while speaking to the Wall Street Journal. While Korea and China certainly have a long and complex history of politics, influence, and diplomatic relations — including a tributary system and repeated invasions, as Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post has pointed out — the Korean peninsula was never under China's official territorial control.
Later that same year, Trump claimed "Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah" during a joint press conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The president appeared not to know that Lebanon's president, Michel Aoun, is a known Hezbollah ally and that members of the radical Shiite organization serve in the country's cabinet and parliament. What's more, Hezbollah was, at the time, working with the Lebanese Army to fight ISIS along the country's Syrian border.
Reports of Trump's lack of awareness regarding Nepal and Bhutan's sovereign status come less than a week after the president suggested intelligence officials were "wrong" in their assessment of Iran's nuclear ambitions and "should go back to school!"
"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran," the president tweeted in late January. "They are wrong!" The president later blamed his supposed disagreement with intelligence officials on the media, accusing it of mischaracterizing and distorting what intelligence officials said during their Senate hearing.