WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump credits his accord with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un with saving tens of millions of people from nuclear war. Now he just has to get everyone else on board.
Frustrated with lukewarm backing from congressional Republicans, criticism from Democratic opponents and skepticism from allies and the media, Trump made a stop Friday on the North Lawn of the White House to promote the nuclear deal that critics have criticized as vague and lacking in clear objectives.
The surprise appearance on “Fox & Friends,” followed by a combative round of questions with reporters, came two days after Trump returned from Singapore expecting a hero’s welcome and tweeting that the world could “sleep well.” Trump - who has long pitched himself as a master dealmaker - feels the agreement represents a radical step toward solving an intractable foreign policy problem and has been publicly and privately grumbling that not everyone agrees.
Trump’s frustrations are all the more notable now during the honeymoon phase of the deal, when a triumphant cloud of goodwill has yet to be tempered by reality. The U.S. goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, even in the most optimistic case, will likely take years - and that’s assuming North Korea won’t violate the accord, as it has every previous nuclear agreement.
Facing questions about his public embrace of Kim and the North Korean’s autocratic leadership style - including what Trump said was a joke about the obedience of the autocratic Kim’s advisers - the president said he was doing what is necessary for peace.
“I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family,” Trump told reporters. He added: “If you’re fair, when I came in, people thought we were probably going to war with North Korea. … If we did, millions of people would have been killed.”
The joint statement signed this week by Trump and Kim promises to work toward a denuclearized Korean peninsula, but includes no details on how or when weapons might be eliminated or even reduced. The summit marked the first meeting between a U.S. and North Korean leader in six decades of hostility and did mark a reduction in tensions from last fall, when Trump and Kim were trading insults that raised the specter of war.
Trump emerged from the meeting convinced he could sell the vaguely worded deal, as evidenced by his hour-plus press conference in Singapore immediately after the sit-down. Since then, he has sent out a battery of tweets and messages, peaking with his Friday visit to the White House driveway. The impromptu press availability underscored Trump’s isolation, increasingly...