When Donald Trump canceled military training exercises with our South Korean allies last year, it was a tough decision to defend. It appeared that the American president had just handed a generous gift to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in exchange for nothing, which Trump made worse by echoing the dictatorship’s rhetoric.
The Republican later emphasized the cost savings, which didn’t make any sense.
It was not, however, a one-time change. NBC News reported the other day that the annual large-scale joint exercises conducted with South Korea every spring “will no longer be held.” Over the weekend, Trump defended the shift in American policy by arguing, among other things, that “reducing tensions with North Korea at this time is a good thing!”
In other words, U.S. national security policy is being shaped by the president’s desire to make North Korea happy – making this another victory for the rogue dictatorship, which the White House appears to have offered in exchange for nothing.
But that’s not all the Republican said on the matter over the weekend.
President Trump said Sunday that the congressional testimony of Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer and fixer, was in part responsible for the collapse in negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program last week – continuing to vent about the investigations encircling him and his associates. […]
“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!”
Even for Trump, this is rather pitiful.
To hear the American president tell it, congressional oversight may have “contributed” to Trump’s inability to negotiate a deal with his pal in Pyongyang. In reality, Trump’s failures are his own.
As for his belief that last week’s hearing was somehow unprecedented, plenty of modern presidents have traveled abroad during congressional oversight hearings – it’s not like Republicans stopped pursuing Benghazi conspiracy theories when Barack Obama boarded Air Force One – but we haven’t heard Trump’s predecessors blame lawmakers when they failed to reach international agreements.
So what are we left with? A scandal-plagued American president, looking for someone to blame for his latest diplomatic failure, making new concessions to a rogue dictator who’s getting a lot more than he’s giving.
It’s not a good look.