Republicans in Congress caution Trump against trusting North Korea

After a historic summit in Singapore, Republicans back home are warning President Donald Trump on Tuesday not to let ...

Posted: Jun 13, 2018 12:42 PM
Updated: Jun 13, 2018 12:42 PM

After a historic summit in Singapore, Republicans back home are warning President Donald Trump on Tuesday not to let the lure of a deal with North Korea cloud the realities of dealing with a dictator.

Congressional Republicans offered the President measured praise for his meeting with Kim Jong Un, with many saying they were hopeful that it could potentially lead to Pyongyang giving up its nuclear weapons. But they also warned that North Korean leaders have made promises before that they never followed through on - and numerous Republicans drew the line at the notion Trump raised that the US could ultimately withdraw its thousands of troops in South Korea.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican and a member of Senate GOP leadership, was cautious about the North Korea talks, saying, "We may have started down a path here that gets us to our goal, which is denuclearization."

But he added: "I'd be concerned about any discussion of removing troops from Korea. And I will look closely at what the discussion was about our joint operations -- our joint military operations."

Sen. Joni Ernst said she thought the summit was successful, but she also cautioned against withdrawing US troops.

"As far as moving troops off the Korean Peninsula, I think we need to stay there," the Iowa Republican said. "We don't just withdraw our troops, no."

The summit was just the latest example of Trump's ad hoc foreign policy, a meeting that under another president would likely have drawn the ire of foreign policy hawks back in Washington.

But instead, the President's party is trying to grapple with the North Korean reality, accentuating Trump's gesture as one of the only ways the US can tame a nuclear-armed enemy.

"It's not something we should celebrate. It's not a pretty sight, but it's the necessary part of a job to protect Americans," Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, told reporters that he still has questions about what - if anything - was agreed to, and that he hoped to have Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brief him in short order.

"I think we've done that," Corker said when asked if he worried about legitimizing North Korea. "At this juncture, I don't think we know enough to challenge or celebrate"

The Republican message to Trump was clear: Verifying Kim's commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula is a must. While Trump told ABC News on Tuesday, "I think he trusts me, and I trust him," Republicans were skeptical.

"He's trying to be cordial, but I am a Ronald Reagan guy -- 'trust but verify,'" said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican.

"I think it's important that we don't lose sight of the fact that Kim Jong Un is a butcher and he is a butcher of his own people," said Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. "Trying to reason with someone like that, is like trying to hand feed a shark. Doesn't mean you can't do it, but you've got to do it very, very carefully."

In the joint statement released by the US and North Korea, Kim said he "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." But Republican senators said they were skeptical of Kim's promises, given North Korea's track record in past negotiations.

"I hope that he gives up his nuclear weapons in a verifiable way and it all works out," said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican. "And the President has gone down that road and should be given a chance to succeed but I also think it's important for us to be cautious about what such a deal would be. It has to be real."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also focused on the need for verifying that North Korea would give up its nukes.

"The next steps in negotiation will test whether we can get to verifiable deal which enhances the security of Northeast Asia, our allies, and of course the United States," McConnell said.

RELATED: Trump's North Korean gamble ends with 'special bond' with Kim

Democrats, meanwhile, slammed the summit as lacking an overall strategy and providing legitimacy to a brutal dictator.

"I have to be honest with you, this is the weakest statement I have ever seen come out of any engagement with North Korea, much less at the highest ranking of the President of the United States meeting with Kim Jong Un," said New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the meeting was "a welcome improvement" to "name-calling and saber-rattling," but argued that details coming out of the summit were lacking.

"It's imperative that we actually get action here, not just photo ops," Schumer said. "If the United States is unable to win concrete, lasting concessions from North Korea, the meeting alone will be a victory for Kim Jong Un and a defeat for President Trump."

Before departing Singapore Tuesday, Trump said that the US would stop military exercises with South Korea, which has long been a source of tension for Pyongyang. "Under the circumstances that we're negotiating a very comprehensive complete deal I think it's inappropriate to have war games," Trump said.

Republicans said they wanted more information about what Trump's military plans entailed. And while several lawmakers said they thought such a concession wouldn't harm the ability for the US military to respond in the Korean Peninsula, others pointed to it as another reason Congress should approve any deal with Pyongyang.

"I think it's unclear what he meant by that," Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner said of military exercises. "I think it's important that we continue to engage in South Korea as we have been, from an exercise standpoint. But here's where I do think it's important: I think the President has talked about the good faith efforts and our progress being made towards denuclearization and it's clear our sanctions remain in place, that's why I strongly support maximum pressure."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said he's "fine" to put "war games" on hold - but "one thing he cannot entertain is withdrawing our troops as part of the deal."

Graham told CNN that that "something this big has to come to Congress" for approval, assuming there's a nuclear deal with North Korea. Graham warned North Korea: "If you try to play Trump or back out, there's going to be a war and nobody wants war. Look at what he said to Canada when he thinks he's wronged."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 448268

Reported Deaths: 6013
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin931011480
Ramsey40016739
Dakota33072340
Anoka30999364
Washington20164228
Stearns17871187
St. Louis13690241
Scott1195496
Wright11614104
Olmsted1048475
Sherburne821365
Carver694836
Clay653280
Rice606868
Kandiyohi554371
Blue Earth541033
Crow Wing482774
Otter Tail457167
Chisago452732
Benton420186
Winona389646
Douglas374166
Nobles370846
Mower365529
Goodhue347958
Polk328658
McLeod325345
Morrison311744
Beltrami310347
Lyon302236
Becker284939
Itasca284543
Isanti282841
Carlton280043
Steele27379
Pine266713
Freeborn245321
Todd231730
Nicollet224636
Brown215134
Mille Lacs214246
Le Sueur210015
Cass207623
Meeker199733
Waseca189316
Wabasha17083
Martin170026
Roseau165416
Hubbard149338
Redwood139727
Renville137539
Houston135913
Dodge13474
Chippewa131332
Cottonwood127218
Fillmore12355
Wadena120116
Rock110212
Sibley10857
Aitkin108433
Watonwan10668
Faribault105916
Pennington99215
Kanabec97818
Pipestone94423
Yellow Medicine93714
Murray8815
Jackson85610
Swift83418
Pope7385
Marshall70215
Stevens7018
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake63715
Wilkin6259
Koochiching59610
Lincoln4841
Big Stone4573
Unassigned43768
Grant4298
Norman4248
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37219
Red Lake3174
Traverse2503
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 305606

Reported Deaths: 4278
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45754449
Linn17795275
Scott15444163
Black Hawk13773236
Woodbury13016175
Johnson1211749
Dubuque11387150
Pottawattamie8992112
Dallas888671
Story869434
Webster469771
Cerro Gordo466768
Sioux455157
Clinton450361
Warren443938
Marshall427761
Buena Vista393429
Muscatine390477
Des Moines381841
Plymouth350368
Wapello344198
Jasper321959
Lee317130
Marion304952
Jones271349
Henry264330
Carroll255434
Bremer245048
Crawford231022
Boone218417
Washington217632
Benton209444
Mahaska193136
Jackson192031
Tama187757
Dickinson186026
Delaware173736
Kossuth173644
Clay168820
Wright164824
Fayette162322
Hamilton160029
Buchanan159923
Winneshiek155719
Harrison155162
Hardin154729
Cedar153219
Clayton151448
Butler148224
Page144715
Floyd139636
Cherokee139027
Mills136416
Lyon135332
Poweshiek132724
Hancock130224
Allamakee127928
Iowa125422
Calhoun12279
Grundy121226
Jefferson120724
Madison12039
Winnebago119429
Mitchell116234
Louisa115030
Cass113341
Chickasaw111612
Sac111215
Emmet110831
Appanoose110538
Union108822
Humboldt105519
Guthrie103024
Shelby102926
Franklin102418
Unassigned9310
Palo Alto9079
Montgomery85622
Keokuk85026
Howard84219
Monroe81218
Clarke7957
Pocahontas77611
Ida74630
Greene6927
Davis69121
Adair68820
Lucas6508
Monona64016
Osceola6409
Worth6113
Taylor5949
Fremont5126
Van Buren49712
Decatur4894
Ringgold4389
Audubon4158
Wayne41421
Adams2963
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: -1°
Feels Like: 25°
Mason City
Clear
33° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 23°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 0°
Feels Like: 25°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: -1°
Feels Like: 29°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 26°
A roller coaster of temperatures
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events