WASHINGTON – Confusion, doubt, and a little bit of optimism ricocheted around Capitol Hill on Tuesday as lawmakers tried to figure out what the next step is after President Donald Trump’s historic summit with Kim Jong-Un in North Korea’ s nuclear program.
Republicans and Democrats were not quite ready to toast to the first meeting of a U.S. president with a North Korean leader. They weren’t sure what exactly was carried out. They were afraid that Trump gave more than he got. She did agree, though, that the pageantry and the images don’t mean much, unless the North fully denuclearizes.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the meeting an “important first step” in the U.S.-North Korea relations, but are not decisive in deciding if North Korea didn’t follow.
“The next steps in the negotiations will test whether we can come to a verifiable deal,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. He added, “We and our allies must be prepared to restore the policy of maximum pressure.”
The house of representatives Paul Ryan echoed. “There is only one acceptable final result: a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.”
Trump had no clarity as to when he is elected to the Senate GOP lunch cheerful and confident as he rode Air Force One on the way back home.
Trump told the senators he had up to 26 hours. He seemed excited about the possibilities ahead, said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
“Some people get all up in arms, and say,’ He’s too fast to have a meeting,'” Paul told The Associated Press. “I don’t think he has given everything away. Look, they have stopped testing, they have released the hostages. We’ll see what happens, but I am optimistic.”
Democrats were openly skeptical, saying Trump had already given some American leverage by committing to cessation of US military exercises with the treaty ally South Korea.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-n.y., outlined a five-point plan that he wanted to see talks progress, including the dismantling of the North Korean nuclear weapons of the regime, the end of the production of fuels and complete weapons inspections.
Schumer said that there is a long, long way to go, outside of the “little statement”, produced by the two leaders.
“While we are relieved that they no longer call each other names, we are afraid that this kind of things, that are necessary for America’s safety is not happening,” Schumer said.
Sen. Chris Coons, the Delaware Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said a top like this, on a whim and without proper preparation, it was not really diplomacy, but entertainment.
“We have more than we got,” Coons said. “This is a handshake, reality TV, photo on top.”
Still, lawmakers of both parties said that they preferred diplomacy and the battle-by-tweet in which Trump and Kim seemed to threaten with a nuclear war. But she asked what exactly happened on their face-to-face meeting.
“It is difficult to determine what the concrete nature has occurred,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
At least one Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took a critical attitude.
“While I know that @potus tries to butter him up to get a good deal, #KJU is NOT a talented man,” Rubio tweeted with the generic term for the president and for the North Korean leader. “He inherited the family business from his father and grandfather. He is a total weirdo who should not be elected assistant dog catcher in any democracy.”
Vice-President Mike Pence met with senators in their closed-door lunch, but his presentation-more questions than answers. The senators saw a White House video in which the two scenarios facing North-Korea — a future of trade and optimism, or despair and poverty, they said.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., arise from the encounter to say that Pence told the senators the military exercises would continue.
But that was contrary to Trump’s claim that he is the stop the war games of the discussions progressed.
That a Twitter feud that dragged into Tuesday afternoon. Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah shot back in a tweet that the vice-president “not to say that this in the Senate lunch today.”
Gardner doubled down and insisted he was right.
Paul said he heard it differently, and understood Pence to say that the small-scale exercises that go on all the time will continue, but “the most important thing, the great war-exercises” would not continue as long as there is progress in denuclearization talks.
Especially for the Republicans, Trump’s meeting with Kim seemed complicated given the history of North Korea intransience and distressing of human rights. Trump seemed largely indifferent about the celebration of an authoritarian leader who is suspected to be of the order of the public murder of his half-brother with a nerve agent, the execution of his uncle by firing squad, and the killing of AMERICAN college student Otto Warmbier.
Warmbier, said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is “a constant reminder to me about the evil nature of this regime.”
“I remain skeptical, but hope that this new dialogue can translate into meaningful progress,” Portman said in a statement. “I am strongly of the opinion that the president’s maximum pressure campaign must remain until North Korea actually changes course and ends at the dangerous nuclear weapons program.”
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