Trump Undermines Advisor on NKorea 05/26 11:52
Seemingly contradicting his national security adviser , President Donald
Trump on Sunday played down North Korea's recent missile tests and said they
were not a concern for him.
TOKYO (AP) -- Seemingly contradicting his national security adviser ,
President Donald Trump on Sunday played down North Korea's recent missile tests
and said they were not a concern for him.
The comments tweeted during his trip to Japan were sure to unnerve leaders
of the U.S. ally that is directly threatened by short-range weapons from its
Asian neighbor. While America is not, there are tens of thousands of U.S.
troops in Japan and South Korea.
Trump also said North Korea's Kim Jong Un's criticism of Joe Biden , the
former vice president who is among the Democrats running for the White House in
2020, made him smile.
The remarks were the latest example of Trump's willingness to publicly
undermine his senior advisers, flout democratic norms and side with
"North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my
people, and others, but not me," Trump tweeted in one of his early morning
"Some" of his "people" appear to include national security adviser John
Bolton, who told reporters at a briefing Saturday before Trump arrived in Tokyo
that a series of short-range missile tests by North Korea this month violated
U.N. Security Council resolutions.
"There is no doubt about that," said Bolton, citing the May 4 and May 9
tests that ended a pause in launches that began in late 2017. Trump ignored a
shouted question Sunday about whether he agreed with Bolton's assessment and
his press secretary did not seem to back up Bolton.
Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press"
that "we know that the activities at no point that took place over the last
several weeks have been a threat to the United States or our allies." She said
Trump "still feels comfortable and confident in the relationship that he has
with Chairman Kim."
Trump and other administration officials have tried to play down the
significance of the tests, insisting they do not violate an agreement Trump
reached with Kim for a moratorium on launches.
"The moratorium was focused, very focused, on intercontinental missile
systems, the ones that threaten the United States," U.S. Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo said in a recent television interview. That raised alarm bells in
Japan, where short-range missiles pose a serious threat because of the
country's proximity to North Korea.
Also within range of such missiles are the roughly 28,000 U.S. troops
stationed in South Korea and the 54,000 American forces in Japan, in addition
to family members and civilian Department of Defense employees.
"I find them very disturbing and certainly wouldn't trust Kim Jong-un," said
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. She told CNN's "State of the Union" that "Japan
does have reason to be concerned. And I am concerned as well. We need to see
North Korea back off of those activities. And we need to take a very strong
stance on that."
Ernst said the U.S. needs to ensure that North Korea follows U.N.
guidelines. "We can't continue to let them further develop any type of weapon
Unlike several other leaders in the region, Abe has yet to meet with Kim,
leaving Japan to rely on the U.S. as an intermediary and advocate with North
Korea. Abe recently offered to meet Kim without preconditions in an effort to
restore diplomatic ties.
Trump in his tweet said he had "confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his
promise to me," while at the same time embracing Kim's recent attacks on Biden,
whose name he misspelled.
Trump said he "smiled" when Kim "called Swampman Joe Bidan a low IQ
individual, & worse."
"Perhaps that's sending me a signal?" Trump asked.
Trump later offered a new tweet with the correct "Biden" spelling.
North Korea this week past called Biden a "fool of low IQ" and an "imbecile
bereft of elementary quality as a human being" after Biden accused Trump of
cozying up to "dictators and tyrants" such as Kim and Russian President
Vladimir Putin during his campaign launch speech.
Biden's campaign would not comment on the record Sunday, but a spokesman for
his campaign, Andrew Bates said this past Wednesday that given Biden's "record
of standing up for American values and interests, it's no surprise that North
Korea would prefer that Donald Trump remain in the White House."