House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) needled President Trump Thursday after the collapse of his talks with Kim Jong Un, suggesting it shouldn’t have taken him so long to recognize the North Korean leader is not serious about denuclearization.
“I guess it took two meetings for him to realize that Kim Jong Un is not on the level,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference. “The prospect for success seemed dim in light of the insincerity of Kim Jong Un.”
Trump’s meeting with Kim in Hanoi was abruptly cut short after he and Trump were unable to reach a deal to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.
Talks collapsed unexpectedly amid a disagreement about economic sanctions, with the two leaders and their delegations leaving their meeting site in Vietnam’s capital without sitting for a planned lunch or participating in a scheduled signing ceremony.
Pelosi also criticized Trump for comments in a news conference in Hanoi. Trump said he took Kim at his word that he wouldn’t have allowed American college student Otto Warmbier to be treated so poorly if he knew about his situation. Warmbier’s family says he was brutally tortured while imprisoned in North Korea and died in 2017 after returning to the United States in a coma.
Pelosi said it was “wrong” that Trump is willing to believes “thugs” like Kim. She also cited Trump’s inclination to believe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s contention that he did not interfere with the U.S. presidential election in 2016 despite a contrary conclusion for U.S. intelligence officials.
Pelosi said she was grateful that Trump did not sign a deal with Kim that yielded too much ground. “It’s good that the president did not give him anything,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) made a similar point during remarks on the chamber’s floor Thursday.
“I was pleased to see the president recognize North Korea’s unwillingness to strike a comprehensive deal,” Schumer said. “President Trump did the right thing by walking away and not cutting a poor deal for the sake of a photo op.”
Schumer said he had been concerned about the possibility that Trump would strike a bad deal “especially with the other pressures on the president.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, had nothing but praise for how Trump handled himself during the two-day summit in Hanoi, which followed a first meeting last year between Trump and Kim in Singapore.
“It was smart to bring Kim Jong Un to Singapore and Vietnam, to expose the North Korean delegation to the kind of economic prosperity that could be possible if he chooses a new path,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “High-level diplomacy can carry high-level risks, but the president is to be commended for walking away when it became clear insufficient progress had been made on denuclearization.”
Trump also drew praise from House Republican leaders.
“President Trump was right to walk away from a shallow, and potentially dangerous, deal that would have undermined the tremendous progress this Administration has made,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a statement. “Should Kim Jong Un appreciate the opportunity for his country and reconsider his position, the President is prepared to reengage and make a deal that benefits not only the United States and the North Korean people, but the world.”
McCarthy was asked at a later news conference about Trump’s comments on Warmbier.
McCarthy said Kim is “not a friend,” adding that while he supports Trump’s efforts to denuclearize North Korea, “I do not have a misbelief of who this leader is.”