Trump-Kim summit was ‘purely a reality show’, senator says

Criticism of the president came from both sides of the aisle 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Tuesday 12 June 2018 19:54 BST
Trump-Kim meeting: how events unfolded at the Singapore summit

Senator Chuck Schumer called the recent Singapore meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un “purely a reality show summit”.

Other Congressional Democrats and Republicans are not exactly celebrating what the White House labelled a “historic” step towards peace in the Korean peninsula and touted the agreement for future talks as a major victory which previous administrations were not able to achieve.

Mr Schumer pointed out that the definition of denuclearisation has not yet been set between the parties, adding that Mr Trump “has granted a brutal and repressive dictatorship the international legitimacy it has long craved”.

Senator Mark Warner, head of the Senate intelligence committee continuing to investigate Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign team for alleged collusion with Russian officials, was none too happy with the summit delivering Mr Kim “exactly what he wanted”.

He said the leader, accused of keeping up to 130,000 prisoners in labour camps and a slew of human rights violations as told by defectors, “walked away from Singapore with...the pomp, circumstance and prestige of a meeting with the President of the United States – while making no specific commitments in return”.

Fellow Democratic Senator Chris Coons added that the “TV handshake” summit was a “dream” come true for the young, isolated leader. He received “legitimacy on the world stage, an invitation to the White House, no concessions on human rights, and no clear concessions on a timeline or a process for” getting rid of his nuclear weapons programme, Mr Coons noted.

Singapore Summit 2018: Donald Trump says North Korea will 'dismantle missile test site'

But, criticism was not limited to the opposition, which has been the case of late on many of Mr Trump’s foreign policy moves.

Even fairly reliable Trump ally Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not echo the White House’s optimistic and positive language. He said that though the summit was a “major first step” it does not mean much if Pyongyang does not follow through with total denuclearisation.

Mr McConnell warned that the US must be ready and willing to re-apply the “maximum pressure” campaign of harsh sanctions like those imposed by the United Nations on oil and gas, textiles, and seafood.

“The next steps in negotiations will test whether we can get to a verifiable deal,” he said on the Senate floor.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, another relatively staunch ally of the administration, echoed his Senate counterpart when he said that “only time will tell if North Korea is serious this time”.

Democrats were critical of Mr Trump’s perceived concession of halting joint US-South Korea military exercises in the region without a similar public concession from Mr Kim.

Trump will 'absolutely' invite Kim Jong-un to White House following historic summit in Singapore

Last month North Korea had cancelled scheduled peace talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in over the military drills, which involved fighter jets, calling it a “provocation” and a “rehearsal for [an] invasion of the North”.

They had also threatened to call off the summit with the US over the exercises as well and Mr Trump’s announcement appeared to be a concession of American leverage in the negotiations to get Mr Kim to halt development of his nuclear weapons programme.

Congress members were also critical of the fact that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s language regarding the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” was not included in the joint statement signed by the president and Mr Kim.

Mr Trump’s “security guarantees” was also vague and unmatched by North Korea. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair and Republican Senator Bob Corker said in a statement he is “glad” the leaders were able to meet but that “it is difficult to determine what of concrete nature has occurred”.

Mr Corker noted he “look[s] forward” to having Mr Pompeo appear before the committee in order to carry out its “oversight responsibilities”.

Marco Rubio, Republican Senator and a sometimes-critic of Mr Trump since being personally attacked while running for president against him in 2016, tweeted that he realised Mr Trump would have to “butter him up to get a good deal” from Mr Kim, the regime leader is “not a talented guy”.

“He inherited the family business from his dad & grandfather. He is a total weirdo who would not be elected assistant dog catcher in any democracy,” he tweeted, echoing an insult Mr Trump has used and making some wonder whether he was referring to the president or Mr Kim given both the leaders’ backgrounds.

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