In the midst of yet another catastrophically bad day for Donald Trump, which saw his criminal scandals close in on him more tightly than ever, he decided out of nowhere to announce that he was more or less giving up on North Korea. It was strangely timed, it took his own people by surprise, and it didn’t seem to be an attempt at a distraction or a negotiation, so much as a retreat. So what really happened here?
For reference, here’s the tweet Donald Trump blasted out yesterday afternoon: “I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place). Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!”
No one could quite figure out what Trump was trying to do, least of all Mike Pompeo. The Wall Street Journal says that, based on his actions leading up to the tweet, Pompeo had no idea that Trump was about to pull the plug. This tells us that Trump didn’t discuss this with any of his political advisers, didn’t base it on any new intel that they had given him, and instead made this decision for reasons that had nothing to do with North Korea – or for that matter the United States. Maybe he had help writing this curiously correctly-spelled tweet, but apparently not from any of his own officials.
And yet in his tweet, Donald Trump seemed to go out of his way to avoid creating trouble with North Korea. It almost read like a “Sorry I’ve got to break it off, Kim Jong-Un, it’s not you, it’s me” breakup letter. Our take on this is that Trump is now facing so much immediate trouble with his criminal scandals, he’s pulling the plug on the North Korea negotiations – which have always been a choreographed farce – because he can no longer afford to put any focus into these kinds of things. After all, the CFO of the Trump Organization just cut an immunity deal against him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report