Posts tagged with "U.S. President Donald Trump"

America may settle for nuclear freeze with North Korea

July 2, 2019

It was a shot seen around the world: Creating just the kind of global drama that he craves, U.S. President Donald Trump took a step into the Demilitarized Zone to shake hands with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on June 30, amid a swirl of Eastern and Western cameramen and security staff.

But for weeks before the meeting—which started as a Twitter offer by the president to Kim to drop by and “say hello”—a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations, The New York Times reports.

No longer would America negotiate for North Korean denuclearization. The new “ask,” according to the Times, would be for a nuclear freeze—one that would essentially preserve the status quo; and, in doing so, recognize and accept the North as a nuclear state.

And while such an agreement would fall far short of President Trump’s original intention to disarm Korea, it might provide him with a retort to campaign-season critics—who say that Kim has been playing the American president brilliantly by giving him the visuals he craves while holding back on real concessions.

The administration still insists in public and in private that its goals remain full denuclearization; however it is willing to concede to a freeze as a limited first step.

American negotiators would seek to expand on Kim’s offer in Hanoi in February to give up the country’s main nuclear-fuel production site, at Yongbyon, in return for the most onerous sanctions against the country being lifted. Trump, under pressure from And it certainly would look like progress, after three personal meetings—in Singapore, in Hanoi, and now in the DMZ Zone—have accomplished little but smiles and handshakes.

However, according to the Times, on Sunday evening, the State Department’s envoy to North Korea, Stephen E. Biegun, said that this account of the ideas being generated in the administration was “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

“What is accurate is not new, and what is new is not accurate,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump disagrees with allies and advisers on North Korea

May 29, 2019

President Donald Trump seems to be distancing himself from friends and foes, alike. He is isolating himself from the nation’s longtime allies abroad—and even from his own advisers—regarding America’s relationship with North Korea, as he avidly insists that his denuclearization talks with Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un will prevail going into his 2020 reelection bid.

The widening gap was apparent on Monday morning, May 28, Politico reported, when Trump disagreed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a joint news conference, when asked about recent North Korean missile tests.

Abe had called the tests of several short-range ballistic missiles “quite a regrettable act,” that violated a United Nations Security Council resolution; echoing language that Trump’s own National Security Adviser, John Bolton, had used on Saturday,.

However, Politico noted, the president on Monday, at the end of his short trip to Japan to meet the new emperor, insisted that he was not “personally” bothered by the tests and was “very happy with the way it’s going” in his efforts to engage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Notably, Trump said he did not think the tests violated the U.N. resolution.

“My people think it could have been a violation,” Trump said. “I view it differently.”

It was a striking break that revealed Trump’s desire to retain a talking point he has long used at rallies—that he’s responsible for pulling America back from the brink of nuclear war with North Korea, the political news outlet said. It’s a stance that has been increasingly difficult to maintain as talks between Washington and Pyongyang appear to have broken down after two summits between the two countries’ leaders.

It’s also clear, Politico reported, that Trump sees the issue almost singularly through the lens of his personal relationship with Kim.

Kim, Trump said, “is looking to create a nation that has great strength economically. … He knows that, with nuclear, that’s never going to happen. Only bad can happen. He understands that. He is a very smart man. He gets it well.”

North Korea’s missile tests were the first since 2017 after Trump threatened “fire and fury” if Pyongyang didn’t stop its nuclear weapons tests.

Since then, North Korea has paused its nuclear weapons testing, pushing the United States to ease up on sanctions in exchange for the minimal steps it has taken to denuclearize. Trump balked at such a deal in February and ended his second summit with Kim early.

Fearful of the threat that North Korea’s missiles posed to Japan, Abe has long courted Trump on the issue. On Monday, Abe praised Trump for breaking “the shell of distrust” with Kim and announced that he, too, would hold a summit with the North Korean leader. But even after saying the United States  and Japan were “the same” on North Korea, he reiterated that North Korea had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution. “It is of great regret,” he said.

The divergent remarks came after Trump on Sunday appeared to brush back his own national security adviser on Twitter.

“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me,” the tweet read.

The tweet came shortly after Bolton had confirmed for the first time that the administration had “no doubt” the missile tests violated international resolutions.

In recent weeks, Trump has privately joked about Bolton’s hawkish impulses: As a private citizen, Bolton advocated for a preemptive strike on North Korea and advocated for regime change in Iran. Publicly, Trump has even said that he “tempers” Bolton’s more aggressive instincts.

Trump will return to Japan next month for a meeting of the world’s top economies.

Research contact: @politico

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House puts spotlight on secret Trump-Putin summits

February 19, 2019

What happened—in Hamburg in July 2017 and in Helsinki in July 2018—will remain there, if it’s up to the two global leaders who participated in those meetings: Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Apparently there are secrets that the American president has gone to great lengths to suppress—confiscating his translator’s notes of the Hamburg meeting; and allowing no detailed records of his private Helsinki sit-down , according to a recent report by Politico.

But with that silence comes an opportunity for coercion by Putin, who holds Trump’s secrets close at a cost: Intelligence officials fear that Putin may have compromised the American president, who could be following the Russian’s dangerous agenda out of fear of exposure and reprisals.

Now, all that is about to change, as House Democrats prepare to take their first meaningful steps to force Trump to divulge information about those private conversations.

The chairmen of two powerful congressional oversight panel—Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) of the Intelligence Committee and Representative Eliot Engel (D-New York) of the Foreign Affairs Committeetold Politico late last week that “they are exploring options to legally compel the president to disclose his private conversations with the Russian president.

The two lawmakers told the political news outlet that they are “actively consulting” with House General Counsel Douglas Letter about the best way to legally compel the Trump administration to come clean.

“I had a meeting with the general counsel to discuss this and determine the best way to find out what took place in those private meetings — whether it’s by seeking the interpreter’s testimony, the interpreter’s notes, or other means,” Schiff, told Politico in an interview.

According to the February 16 story, the move underscores the seriousness with which Democrats view Trump’s conciliatory statements and actions toward Moscow; and its place as a top House priority as the party pursues wide-ranging investigations into the president and his administration.

Specifically, Politico reported, Democrats want a window into the Helskini meeting last summer, during which Trump put himself at odds with the U.S. intelligence community and declared—while standing next to the Russian president—that the Kremlin did not interfere in the 2016 elections.

“I don’t see any reason why [Russia would interfere with the 2016 election],” he said at the extraordinary news conference following the private confabulation.

Trump’s remark prompted Democrats to call for Marina Gross, the State Department translator who was the only other American present for the Trump-Putin meeting, to share her notes with Congress and testify in public.

Getting Gross’s notes and testimony may be a challenging task, Schiff admitted—noting possible legal roadblocks, including executive privilege.

“That’s a privilege that, based on first impression, is designed to facilitate consultations between the president and members of his staff and Cabinet — not to shield communications with a foreign leader,” Schiff said. “But that’s just a preliminary take. And once we get the studied opinion of the general counsel, then we’ll decide how to go forward.”

For his part, Engel told Politico, “I’m not saying that I’m in favor of interpreters turning over all their notes, but I do think that it shouldn’t be up to the president to hide the notes.”

The White House is expected to fight divulging the details of the discussions every step of the way.

Research contact: @desiderioDC

Trump ‘considers’ Putin request to hand over McFaul for interrogation

July 20, 2018

As U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned at their July 16 press conference in Helsinki, Finland, Russia has offered to cooperate in the questioning of 12 of its citizens who have been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the run-up to the 2016 election.

In turn, Putin has requested that the United States turn over former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, as well as several other Americans, for questioning by its Federal Security Service (FSB) over what McFaul has said are “trumped up” charges.

According to White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that request from Putin is currently “under consideration” by the Trump administration—and the president will provide his answer after he meets with his team.

The Trump administration’s ambiguity over whether the former U.S. ambassador would be made available for questioning by the Russians has the U.S. diplomatic community up in arms and has left the seasoned diplomat in question “flabbergasted” over Trump’s seeming unwillingness to defend him against Putin, Mediaite reported on July 18.

Speaking to top MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow on her show on July 18, Mediaite reports that McFaul explained that Putin had been trying to get at him for years. “Vladimir Putin has been after me for a long time, even when I was ambassador, harassing me in ways no other U.S. Ambassador there has ever experienced,” he said to Maddow. “He’s done some outrageous things around the world but even to our diplomats and even to me personally.”

Then, referring to the fact Trump seemed willing to turn a U.S.citizen and diplomat over to Russia for questioning, he added: “What I was totally flabbergasted by was [that] the White House would not defend me. I’m an American citizen. I worked for the government for five years. It would have been so easy to bat it back.” 

Indeed, showing his diplomatic chops, McFaul said that he hoped the White House would come around to the correct answer—a resounding “no”—soon.

In further discussion with Maddow, McFaul made it clear that exposing him to the Russians would be an “outrageous act.”

“You just have to push back on crazy stuff like that. It’s in not just the interests of people like me …; it’s in the American national interests. You can’t in any way dignify such an outrageous claim of tit for tat, moral equivalency, which for some reason our president continues to do when it comes to Vladimir Putin.”

Research contact: @Mediaite

Before meeting with Putin, Trump clarifies, ‘Who’s your daddy?’

July 17, 2018

Who’s the best deal-maker and negotiator, bar none? During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump liked to say it was him, but, according to a July 16 report by Vox, the POTUS “gave away the game” even before his two-hour summit with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin began.

About four hours before the meeting in Helsinki, Finland, yesterday was set to start, President Trump took to Twitter, saying, “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!—referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible Trump campaign collusion during the 2016 election.

His point was obvious: America is to blame for its antagonistic relationship with the Kremlin, not Russia.  And 40 minutes before the meeting, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov responded to Trump’s tweet with two words: “We agree.”

That’s stunning, said Vox. Noting, “Trump and Russia are now—very publicly—on the same page about why they believe ties between the two countries are so poor. That could serve as a huge propaganda win for Russia, which has spent decades bashing the US for Moscow’s economic and political problems.”

Research contact: alex.ward@vox.com

Putin challenges Trump’s tariffs

July 5, 2018

Russia has requested talks with the United States on President Donald Trump’s decision to impose new duties on steel and aluminum—the first step in formally challenging the action at the World Trade Organization. Indeed, the subject may come up at the July 16 summit  in Helsinki, Finland, already scheduled by Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

The complaint filed Monday is the seventh initiated by a WTO member against Trump’s new tariffs, following cases brought by China, India, the European Union, Canada, Mexico, and Norway, Politico reported on July 2.

Moscow’s move comes just as the Trump administration is mulling 25% tariffs on auto imports in the name of national security.

The U.S. imported $192 billion in new passenger vehicles in 2017, according to Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Russia claims the U.S. duties of 25% and 10% on imports of steel and aluminum products, respectively, are inconsistent with provisions of the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and the Agreement on Safeguards, Politico said.

The Trump administration imposed the duties under Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which allows a president to restrict imports to protect national security.

However, rather than accept the U.S. national security rationale for the steel and aluminum duties, other WTO members are treating the restrictions as emergency “safeguard” restrictions, Politico reported. Such restrictions are allowed under WTO rules but must meet certain criteria to pass muster. Steel safeguard restrictions imposed by former President George W. Bush in 2002 were struck down by the WTO.

The EU, Canada, Mexico, China and others also have retaliated against the U.S. steel and aluminum duties, arguing that they are entitled to take such steps because the United States did not compensate them for imposing safeguard restrictions.

On tariffs, 48%  of Americans disagree with President Trump’s imposition of new levies on steel and aluminum imports, while 36% agree, according to findings of a recent CBS News poll. When asked specifically about tariffs on Canadian imports, the number of Americans who disagree rises to 62%. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans approve of the Canadian tariffs.

Research contact: @CBSNews

In tiff over tariffs with Trump, Americans favor Trudeau

June 20, 2018

More Americans see themselves aligned with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over trade policy than with U.S. President Donald Trump, a Global News/Ipsos poll released on June 16 has found. The results were released even as the tiff over tariffs between the two leaders—which escalated into a Trumpian Twitter battle after the G7 meeting in Toronto—continues to simmer.

Based on the findings, Trudeau enjoys a 20-point advantage over the U.S. president among Americans when it comes to which leader respondents think is better handling the discussions over tariffs and other trade issues, The Hill reports. Fully 57% of the 1, 005 U.S. respondents told the researchers that they support Trudeau’s actions, compared to just 37% who said the same for Trump.

Over 70% of those who participated in the poll think that the ongoing issue of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration has caused a significant breach in relations between the two formerly close allies. Indeed, Trump stunned many Beltway pundits by rebuking Trudeau after the Canadian PM announced reciprocal tariffs to match the U.S. duties on steel and aluminum following the summit of world leaders last weekend.

“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, ‘US Tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around,’ ” Trump tweeted while on his way to Singapore to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Very dishonest & weak,” the president added. “Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!”

The poll results come on the heels of another survey from Monmouth University, which determined that most U.S. adults believe that Trump has a better relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin than with any other world leader.

Research contact: @Ipsos

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

With a meeting in the works, fewer fear North Korea

March 14, 2018

Americans increasingly approve of the White House’s handling of the North Korea situation, following President Donald Trump’s acceptance of a meeting invitation from the Hermit Kingdom’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

Based on findings of a poll of 1,223 adults nationwide by CBS News—conducted by SSRS during the past week and released on March 13—64% of Americans still express unease about the situation.

However, 32%—most of them, Republicans—now are “confident that [the Korea situation] will resolve without conflict.” Specifically, the number of nervous Republicans has dropped by a dramatic 19 points since the last poll was taken.

The president’s approval rating on handling North Korea has risen to 42%, according to CBS News, from where it was in January (34%). Disapproval now stands at 50%—down from 59% last August. The uptick in approval comes mostly from independents and Republicans.

The president’s overall job approval rating remains virtually unchanged, now at 38%. As has been the case since the start of his term, a large majority of Republicans continue to approve of the job he’s doing, while most Democrats disapprove.

Research contact: @CBSNews