WASHINGTON: Donald Trump traded playful digs with the Washington press corps late Saturday at an annual gathering of politicians and members of the media, which the US president normally loves to hate.
Speaking at this year's traditional Gridiron Club Dinner, Trump let loose with one-liners on themes including North Korea and his own revolving-door White House staff.
Assuming a jovial tone, the president said he would not rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un -- but warned it was the North's leader who faced "the risk of dealing with a madman."
Dubbing his audience at the white-tie gala "really quality people," he noted that it had been "another calm week at the White House" -- a week that saw the departure of Trump's confidant Hope Hicks and financial irregularities surrounding son-in-law Jared Kushner and the ongoing investigation into his campaign.
"We finally have it running like a fine-tuned machine," Trump said.
"I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good."
Mulling over who the White House might next bid adieu to, Trump joked about whether it might be his own wife Melania.
"She's actually having a great time," he said.
Trump said Kushner -- who recently lost his top-level security clearance -- was late to the dinner "because Jared couldn't get through security."
In another wisecrack Trump said he had offered Jeff Sessions a ride to the event but the attorney general "recused himself" -- a reference to the top law enforcement official's abstention from the Russia probe.
It was the first such event Trump had attended after he skipped last year's Gridiron gala as well as the higher-profile White House Correspondents Association dinner.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in February it was not yet decided whether the US leader would attend that annual event.
Trump also brought up his controversial decision to slap hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, saying they would help "dying industries."
But it might be too late, he said, for "print media."