Posts tagged with "Kim Jong Un"

Out of sight, top of mind: Whistleblower complaint squelched by Trump or an associate, Schiff says

September 23, 2019

It’s an open secret inside the Beltway that President Donald Trump is intent on blocking every point of access to the “credible and urgent” whistleblower report received by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire earlier this month.

And while the House Intelligence Committee refuses to be deterred, a closed-door meeting on September 19 with the intelligence community’s Inspector General, Michael Atkinson—who received the report in August and intended to act upon it—yielded little to nothing.

Indeed, according to a report by The Daily Beast members of Congress told reporters that they learned no substantive details about the whistleblower’s complaint during their hearing with Atkinson.

The only facts divulged to date are that the president made a “promise” during a phone call to an unknown foreign leader—and that the subject of the complaint “relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”

Only minutes after the conclusion of the closed-door session,  The New York Times reported that the IG told members of the House Intelligence Committee that the complaint related to “multiple acts”—far exceeding the scope of a single alleged conversation with a foreign leader.

But specifics of the complaint—and even public confirmation that it concerns actions by the president—are still being withheld from Congress, committee members said.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) told reporters after the briefing that he believes the details of the complaint—which would normally be shared with Congress—are being suppressed, either by President Trump himself, or by someone “close” to him and “above the pay grade” of Maguire.

“I don’t think this is a problem of the law,” Schiff said, according to The Daily Beast, adding, “The problem lies elsewhere. And we’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is, to make sure that the national security is protected and to make sure that this whistle-blower is protected.”

Fellow House Intelligence member Representative Jackie Speier (D-California) told reporters that “we’ve got a very grave situation on our hands. The standard that has to be met by the IG… urgent, is talking about fire, as he referred to it.”

“This whistleblower has done everything according to the book,” Speier said. “And the potential for reprisals for this whistleblower are great”

In the five weeks preceding the complaint’s filing, The Daily Beast said, Trump had conversations with at least five foreign leaders, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar.

Legally, such a complaint must involve mismanagement, waste, abuse, or a danger to intelligence operations or public safety, or relate to an intelligence activity that violates U.S. law.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

How tweet it is: Trump accuses China of sabotaging diplomacy with North Korea

August 31, 2018

President Donald Trump is playing the blame game again—and this time his target is Beijing. According to a report by The New York Times, on August 29, the POTUS tried to make China the scapegoat for his stalled diplomacy with North Korea—accusing the People’s Republic of undermining the U.S.-led pressure campaign against Pyongyang because of an escalating trade dispute with the United States.

In a series of late-afternoon tweets on @realDonald Trump—sent out under the headline, “Statement from the White House”— the president referred to himself in the third person, claiming, “President Donald J. Trump feels strongly that North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese Government…

“At the same time, we also know that China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities. This is not helpful,” he said.

He continued to tweet, “Nonetheless, the President believes that his relationship with {North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un is a very good and warm one, and there is no reason at this time to be spending large amount of money on joint U.S.-SouthKorea war games. Besides, the president can instantly start the joint exercises again with South Korea and Japan, if  he so chooses.”

He added a threat: “If he does, they will be far bigger than ever before. As for the U.S.-China trade disputes, and other differences, they will be resolved in time by President Trump and China’s great President Xi Jinping. Their relationship and bond remain very strong.”

The news outlet noted that, even as he was criticizing China, Trump reaffirmed his decision in June to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, saying they were costly and unnecessary, given his warm relationship with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

“While it was difficult to decipher the strategy behind the tweets,” the Times said, “the president appeared in part to be trying to dial back remarks made by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who opened the door [on August 29] to resuming the exercises.”

A Defense Department official told the Times that news reports that interpreted Mattis’s remarks as contradictory to the president’s had angered the White House.

Research contact: @MarkLandler 

Erik Prince has flipped for Mueller

June 20, 2018

While Americans continue to seesaw in their approval of the Russia probe generally—and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in particular—more of President Donald Trump’s aides and supporters continue to flip for the investigators. Erik Prince, founder of private military contractor Blackwater, told The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff on June 19 that he now is among the witnesses who have “cooperated” with the ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.

Prince, who reportedly met with a Russian wealth fund manager in the Seychelles during the transition to set up a back channel between the Trump administration and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, told Woodruff that he has “spoken voluntarily to Congress and I also cooperated with the special counsel.”

At first, Prince, who is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, had claimed that he merely took the trip as a vacation jaunt and encountered the Russian briefly and casually.

Now, The Daily Beast reports, Prince is all-in on the Trump-Putin connection. “As I’ve said before, if Franklin Roosevelt can work with Joseph Stalin to defeat German fascism, Nazi fascism, national socialist fascism, then certainly Donald Trump can work with Putin to defeat Islamic fascism,” he said.

What’s more, the Blackwater founder said, a relationship with North Korea will be beneficial. I don’t think we have to be provocative with NATO and I think it’s a good idea for the president to reach out diplomatically,” Prince divulged, adding, “ I mean, for heaven’s sakes, he’s sitting down and talking to Kim [Jong-un] of North Korea. Putin is a much more rational actor and I think it’s totally appropriate for the president to sit down and try to thaw the situation.”

” … All I will add,” Prince told Woodruff, “is that much of the reporting about me in the media is inaccurate, and I am confident that when the investigators have finished their work, we will be able to put these distractions to the side.”

Meanwhile, it is no surprise that a Politico/Morning Consult poll released on June 13 found that 53% of Republicans now say they view the lead Russian investigator in an unfavorable light.

Research contact: @woodruffbets

Trump blows off talk of hurricanes during FEMA meeting

June 8, 2018

During a closed-door meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on June 6 meant to ensure preparedness for the 2018 hurricane season—which is predicted to be a nasty one, with as many as five major named storms on the East and Gulf coasts—President Donald Trump did not focus on recent or projected gales, The Washington Post reported.

Leaked audio from the 40-minute meeting at FEMA headquarters captured Trump musing about everything but the weather, according to the Post, including, “his prowess in negotiating airplane deals, his popularity, the effectiveness of his political endorsements, the Republican Party’s fortunes, the vagaries of Defense Department purchasing guidelines, his dislike of magnetized launch equipment on aircraft carriers, his unending love of coal and his breezy optimism about his planned Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.”

While speaking to the cameras for about 15 minutes, Trump briefly mentioned Puerto Rico; where the Department of Health now estimates that there were about 1,400 additional deaths following Hurricane Maria—bringing the death toll up from the initial estimate of 64.

The Trump administration was roundly criticized for its performance at that time—and still, hundreds of thousands in the U.S. territory continue to live and work without electricity.

Indeed, an Ipsos poll conducted last October found that over three-quarters of American approve of the federal disaster response for both Hurricane Harvey in Texas (78%) and Hurricane Irma in Florida (78%), but only 56% of Americans approve of the response in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Republicans are significantly more likely to approve of the responses in Texas (91%), Florida (90%) and in Puerto Rico (82%). Three-quarters of Democrats also approve of the response in Texas (75%) and Florida (75%), but just 40% of Democrats approve of the response in Puerto Rico, while 38% strongly disapprove of the response.

Trump did, however, thank FEMA officials and Cabinet members for their response to last year’s hurricane season. “We really appreciate the job you’ve done. I want to thank you very much,” he said.

Research contact: julia.clark@ipsos.com

Chances look slimmer for Singapore summit

May 23, 2018

The budding détente between North Korea and the United States hung in the balance on May 22, as the Trump administration continued pushing Pyongyang to denuclearize as a condition of the scheduled meeting in Singapore on June 12 with the hermit kingdom’s Leader Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, according to a report by CNN, North Korea has released three strongly worded statements—slamming Seoul and Washington for their joint military maneuvers earlier in the month and demanding that South Korea take action against defectors it claimed were sending anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets across the border.

As tempers on both continents continued to flare, South Korean President Moon Jae In flew into Washington, DC, to meet with President Trump in an effort to salvage the summit.

But should the diplomatic deliberations even be saved?

Those in the know say the White House staff is balking—both because North Korea seems to already have taken denuclearization off the table; and because Trump has not taken the time or trouble to learn about the nuclear program, something necessary to have a substantive conversation.

South Koreans, however, blame Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton for the problems with the summit, according to The Washington Post.

Bolton has said that his goal is for the North Korean denuclearization process to go like the one that took place in Libya in 2003, when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his country’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. That didn’t end well for the Libyan leader, who eventually found himself in the midst of a coup that led to his capture and execution.

While Trump continues to hold firm on the denuclearization demands, about three-quarters of Americans (77%) approve of his original decision to meet with Kim Jong Un, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on May 10.  Trump’s approval rating for handling the situation with North Korea has jumped ten points since late March.

At press time, there were no reports coming out of the POTUS’s meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae.

Research contact: @jgriffiths

Nearly 80% of South Koreans now trust Kim Jong Un

May 3, 2018

The rapprochement between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which took place at the border between the two countries on April 27, has had a radical effect on the people of South Korea, Bloomberg reports.

Just over a month ago, the polling organization Gallup found that just 10% of South Koreans approved of Kim. However, findings of a poll of 1,023 South Koreans released on May 1 by the Korea Research Center, show that, now, 78% of respondents trust the controversial ruler.

In turn, The Week reports that Moon is well-liked in South Korea, where he has an 86% approval rating. Respondents to the Korea Research Center poll cited several key moments in the summit between the two leaders as impressive—including the pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Thirty percent of respondents said Moon’s decision to cross the border was the most impressive part.

Nearly 90% of South Koreans said the summit was a productive step forward.

Later this month, U.S. President Donald Trump may have the opportunity to create his own détente with Kim at the same location—the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. That site makes the most sense for the North Korean leader, News 4 Jacksonville reports, because media facilities and equipment already are in place.

Will the proposed Trump-Kim talks open up the Hermit State? Only time will tell.

Research contact: @Jee_vuh

Most Americans believe North Korea can be contained

November 3, 2017

As President Donald Trump prepares for his first official trip to Asia this month, Americans are more likely than they were in September to think that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear aspirations can be contained without resorting to military action, according to results of a poll by CBS News.

Today, just 25% of American respondents think military action is needed to address the threat of nuclear bombardment by North Korea—an eight-point drop from the high of 33% two months ago.

According to the network news organization, the drop is primarily among independents and Republicans.  Now most Republicans think North Korea can be contained; in September, half of Republicans said military action was needed.

However, there is far less consensus about how President Trump is currently handling North Korea:  80% of Republicans approve, while 90% of Democrats and most independents disapprove.

By a measure of two-to-one, Americans think other countries in Asia, such as China and South Korea, should be the ones to take the lead in dealing with North Korea. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents all agree on this.

Overall, optimism that Americans of different political views can still come together and work out their differences has faded, CBS said.  Back in June – after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress – more than half (55%) were optimistic. Now, 47% feel hopeful.

Pessimism has risen across party lines, but particularly among independents.

Americans are more likely to want their nation to be liked around the world for its policies (49%) than to be respected for its military power (39%).

The poll was conducted by telephone from October 27 through October 30, among a random sample of 1,109 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS.

Research contact: robinsonc@cbsnews.com