Following his performance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) over the weekend, President Donald Trump has identified a new boogeyman whom he claims is to blame for his failure to reach a deal at his summit with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un: the Democrats. According to a report in HuffPost, Trump took to Twitter on Sunday night to launch a broadside against the Democrats for conducting an open hearing with his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, and appearing to attempt to pin the blame on them for the summit’s failure to achieve a nuclear arms reduction deal with the communist nation. This was following his assertion at the CPAC event that sometimes walking away from the negotiating table was necessary.
“For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the ‘walk,'” he tweeted. “Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!”
Although it appears to be true that Trump had arranged a dinner with Kim for last Wednesday night, that was only scheduled to take place after Democrats on the House Oversight Committee had announced that the Cohen hearing would be taking place at the same time.
Trump’s latest salvo only serves to muddy an already confusing set of finger-pointing and mutual blame surrounding the failure of the two nations to reach an agreement at the Hanoi summit. Just hours before Trump’s tweet, his national security adviser John Bolton appeared on Face the Nation to proclaim that the summit was, in fact, a great success, claiming that by walking away, Trump actually was “protecting and advancing American national interest.”
Bolton went on to claim that the heart of the disagreement that caused the summit to come to a close without a deal having been reached was the North Korean rejection of what he termed Trump’s “big deal, which is to denuclearize entirely.” Bolton said that for Kim to do anything less than unilateral disarmament would have have been “unacceptable,” and thus a deal-breaker.
The confusion surrounding the issue is also partly attributable to Trump himself, who claimed on Thursday that the talks ended because Kim wanted sanctions applied to North Korea “lifted entirely.”
Officials from North Korea disputed this characterization, saying that they had only asked for sanctions imposed since 2016 to be lifted.
The State Department later confirmed the North Korean version of events.