It’s not at all clear if Donald Trump is capable of embarrassment, but this New York Times report really ought to do the trick.
Over the last decade or so, three different presidents have kept in place a White House notice that officially recognizes an ongoing national emergency related to North Korea. Trump, contradicting his own misguided boasts about triumphantly eliminating the nuclear threat, quietly admitted that his recent claims were nonsense.
The gulf between President Trump’s rhetoric and a thorny geopolitical reality widened a bit further on Friday, when the White House said it would extend a decade-old executive order declaring a national emergency over the nuclear threat from North Korea.
The announcement came days after Mr. Trump declared to the world that “everybody can now feel much safer” after his meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.
Apparently, there still is.
“The existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula and the actions and policies of the government of North Korea continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” Trump’s latest notice to Congress said.
Or put another way, when the president declared, “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea,” he was, according to his own written declaration, lying.
But there’s a broader significance to this, because when it comes to this president’s assessment of his “deal” with North Korea, Trump continues to alert the public to the fact that he has no idea what he’s talking about.
Two days before the White House’s notice to Congress, for example, Trump bragged to an audience in Minnesota, in reference to the agreement he reached with Kim Jong-un a week earlier, “Sentence one says ‘a total denuclearization of North Korea.’ There will be denuclearization. So that’s the real story.”
That’s not even close to being true, suggesting the president is either lying or he’s completely clueless about the document he ostensibly helped negotiate.
These examples keep popping up, with Trump expressing surprise that he’s not receiving more credit for reaching an accord that ends the North Korean nuclear threat, against a backdrop in which the Republican president seems oblivious to the fact that his “deal” isn’t really a deal at all; it’s weaker than similar agreements reached by his recent American predecessors; and Trump rewarded a rogue dictator on multiple fronts in exchange for practically nothing.
He really expects Americans to believe he’s “solved” the North Korea “problem.” The degree to which Trump is either confused or lying is quite unsettling.