President Donald Trump made history Tuesday in Singapore as the first American president to meet face-to-face with a leader of North Korea since the Kim dynasty sprouted on the peninsula roughly seven decades ago.
At the heart of negotiations was the “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula in exchange for “security guarantees” for the North’s mercurial leader, Kim Jong Un.
Trump agreed to end joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises along the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, a tangible concession that drew criticism from a number of lawmakers back home.
As the day of meetings between the two presidents and members of their senior staffs unfolded and they headed home, here’s how U.S. lawmakers reacted:
Scalise has concerns about whether, after years of saber rattling, denuclearization will actually happen, he said early Tuesday. But he noted that the “war games” with South Korea that Trump said he will end, will continue if the North Korean leader doesn’t follow through on his commitments.
Good news coming from Singapore. @POTUS has made early strides in making our world a safer place. A lot of work to do yet.— Senator Mike Rounds (@SenatorRounds) June 12, 2018
.@POTUS deserves credit for agreeing to #NKSummit &deserves shame for throwing a hissy fit w/our closest allies & using such degrading language. This must be more than a photo op w/Kim. We demand rigorous verification of denuclearization w/24 hour monitoring & no boundaries.— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) June 12, 2018
A few weeks ago I joined a delegation from the US to meet with the honorable PM of @GovSingapore @LeeHsienLoong and FM @vivianbala. In light of Presidents Trump and Kim’s meeting at the #NorthKoreanSummit, I hope this summit results in a safe and stable region. pic.twitter.com/aKDemYzEds— Rep. Henry Cuellar (@RepCuellar) June 12, 2018
I’m going on @democracynow this morning at 8:30am ET to discuss last night’s summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un. After 68 years of hostilities, we must make the most of this opportunity to create a lasting peace.— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) June 12, 2018
Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) June 12, 2018
Many lawmakers from both parties, while unready to declare the summit a diplomatic victory or defeat, remained skeptical the U.S. could successfully negotiate a deal toward peace with Kim — but are letting the process play out.
Sen. Lindsey Graham does not have an issue with halting joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea while discussions with North Korea continue.
But the South Carolina Republican said Trump would face opposition to any move to withdraw American forces from South Korea.
“I am willing to do a lot of things to get [Kim] to give up their nuclear weapons and end their missile program. You know, he can have a membership at Trump National,” Graham said on CBS, referring to Trump’s golf course. “I really don’t care how generous we are as long as we don’t go too far when it comes to our troop presence. At the end of the day, this is our last best chance to end this conflict without a war.”
“He can come to the White House as long as he gives up his nuclear program, gives up his missile program. Sen. [Charles E.] Schumer laid out what a good deal would look like,” Graham said. “I’m a realist. I’m not trying to bring democracy to North Korea. I’m not trying to unify South Korea and North Korea.”
Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions https://t.co/b2SeV9tgO2— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) June 12, 2018
Just a reminder of who we are dealing with. https://t.co/7KBt9QVWHz— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) June 12, 2018
Should be skeptical of any deal with #KJU Limits to future strategic weapons instead of eliminating current program not an acceptable outcome. Hope I’m wrong but still believe they will never give up nukes & ICBM’s unless believe failure to do so triggers regime ending reaction— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 12, 2018
Let @realDonaldTrump and Kim Jung Un bro out all they like. I welcome @BarackObama’s idea of engaging our enemies. But if this doesn’t lead to denuclearization, it’s a colossal waste of time and will cause irreparable harm to America’s reputation.— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) June 12, 2018
If only @BarackObama had negotiated a deal to denuclearize an enemy of America that had weapons pointed at us and our allies.Wait. What? He did? I hope #NorthKoreaSummit ends North Korea’s nukes. If not, it’s the biggest American foreign policy failure. Ever. — Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) June 12, 2018
Conservative House Republicans were unrepentant in their praise for the president for engaging with North Korea, a sharp reversal from many of their views on similar negotiations between President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran.
Congratulations to @realDonaldTrump on his meeting with Kim Jong Un and moving forward in negotiations on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Doing what no other POTUS has done, Trump has made history with this first meeting.— Ted Poe (@JudgeTedPoe) June 12, 2018
@realDonaldTrump showed true leadership in the historic meeting with Kim Jong Un. It’s still early in the process, but the total denuclearization commitment from North Korea is a huge deal. https://t.co/E1aRQZLohz— Mike Rogers (@RepMikeRogersAL) June 12, 2018
Once again, President Trump has shown his great leadership skills on a world stage by obtaining North Korea’s commitment to denuclearize. The global community can breathe easier this morning. Stay tuned! #LA05— Rep. Ralph Abraham (@RepAbraham) June 12, 2018
Dissed by Democrats
A large contingent of Democrats criticized the president and his staff for tentatively granting a number of concessions to the North Koreans, including a pause on military exercises in South Korea and even meeting with Kim in the first place to lend his leadership legitimacy on the international stage.
Kim’s gulags, public executions, planned starvation, are legitimized on the world stage.U.S. gives up one of our biggest negotiating chips – military exercises. North Korea ends up BACKTRACKING on previous promises on denuclearization. What the hell? — Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 12, 2018
What did we get? Do we get something later? Because it looks like KJU got all the stuff. Does our stuff get announced in a few months?— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) June 12, 2018
In less than a week President Trump has turned our relationship with the western world upside down, and he developed what appeared to be a true friendship with one of cruelest despots on the planet. “America First” is undermining our values and our interests.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) June 12, 2018
Why do I feel this has been one ballyhooed,expensive, bi-lateral con job.— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) June 12, 2018
Niels Lesniewski and Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.
Watch: Pelosi Says She Supports North Korea Talks