Almost immediately after Donald Trump announced last week that he was cancelling the June 12 summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) praised the American president, calling Trump’s move “100% the right decision.”The Florida Republican added that Kim was insincere about wanting a deal and “deliberately sabotaged the talks,” trying to set up the United States to take the blame.
Rubio was hardly alone.
Republican senators praised President Donald Trump for his decision Thursday to cancel a summit in Singapore with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
In a rare interview with reporters, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Trump made the “right” decision. “I think he did the right thing,” he said.
The trouble is, Rubio, McConnell, and other Republicans didn’t get any kind of heads-up from the White House on the president’s thinking – and they had no idea that when Trump said he was cancelling the summit, he wasn’t really cancelling the summit.
So what do the Republicans who praised last week’s move do now that the president is trying to do the opposite?
To be sure, it’s probably premature to say that the Trump-Kim summit is back on, but this Washington Post piece described the current circumstances nicely.
On Tuesday, news broke that a top North Korean official was headed to New York for an urgent meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had locked in a hastily arranged visit to the White House next week. Teams of U.S. negotiators, meanwhile, were already on the ground in the Korean demilitarized zone and in Singapore to nail down final arrangements with their North Korean counterparts for a possible summit in just two weeks.
The flurry of activity surrounding possible talks between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un appeared to be driven in large part by Trump’s fixation on keeping a June 12 date for the meeting – even though the president himself had abruptly called the whole thing off days earlier. In a series of tweets since then, Trump has suggested the summit will take place as scheduled in Singapore, even though his own advisers had warned last week it might be too late.
And that leaves some of the White House’s GOP allies in an awkward position.
When Trump engaged in belligerent saber-rattling, the right praised him for being “tough.” When Trump backed off and embraced diplomacy, the right recommended him for a Nobel Peace Prize. When Trump reversed course and scrapped the talks, the right said it was the right call. And now Trump seems to be reversing course again, pushing to restore the summit’s schedule.
I’ll look forward to hearing the president’s loyal supporters explain that every Trump decision is the right call, even when those decisions contradict his previous moves.