https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/nation ... ld-n877291Inside the summit collapse: Trump wanted to cancel before N. Korean leader could
The president was caught between Pompeo and Bolton, say multiple officials.
by Courtney Kube, Hallie Jackson, Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker and Peter Alexander / May.24.2018 / 4:17 PM ET
WASHINGTON — Early Thursday morning, after a flurry of calls with a handful of senior advisers, an angry President Donald Trump personally dictated the three-paragraph letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that canceled the scheduled summit between their two nations.
It had been less than 12 hours since Trump and his team began grappling intensely with the prospects for shelving what would have been a historic meeting between the two heads of state. But the president, fearing that the North Koreans might beat him to the punch, wanted to be the one to cancel first, multiple officials told NBC News. "There was no hint of this yesterday," a person briefed on the summit preparations said, calling Trump's decision "high risk, high reward." In the previous hours, the president had listened to blistering rhetoric from North Korea, was contending with inflammatory remarks from his own vice president and caught between competing positions from his secretary of state and his national security adviser, officials said.
White House officials said discussions about cancelling began in earnest late Wednesday and included the president, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton. Defense Secretary James Mattis wasn't involved in the discussions Wednesday, though Trump said that he called Mattis about it Thursday morning. But it was a second round of calls early Thursday, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., according to senior White House officials, that convinced Trump to walk away from the summit. His letter went to the North Koreans at 9:43 a.m. The decision occurred so abruptly that the administration was unable to give congressional leaders and key allies advance notice and the letter went out while more than two dozen foreign journalists, including several U.S. citizens, were inside North Korea where they had gone to witness a promised dismantling of a nuclear test site. At 8:20 a.m., the State Department sent a note to reporters touting the positive discussions that Pompeo was having with Asian counterparts in preparation for the summit.
The move exposed significant disagreements among the president's top advisers. Several administration officials said Pompeo, who has taken the lead in negotiating with the North Koreans, blamed Bolton for torpedoing the progress that had already been made. Pompeo flew to Pyongyang twice, met personally with Kim and helped secure the release of three Americans who had been held there. Bolton, a longtime national security hawk who has publicly advocated for regime change in North Korea, was integral, these officials said, to convincing Trump to back out of the summit.
.....https://www.cbsnews.com/news/heres-why- ... ea-summit/
CBS NEWS May 24, 2018, 6:04 PMHere's why Trump canceled the North Korea summit
President Trump's decision to call off the June 12 Singapore summit with North Korea came down to a "trail of broken promises," one White House official put it Thursday. The president's letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — a letter he dictated, the White House official told reporters in a conference call Thursday afternoon — blamed "tremendous anger and open hostility" in a recent North Korean statement. But the White House official cited North Korea's objection to a routine annual military exercise, North Koreans' failure to show up when the U.S. sent and advance team to Singapore, an inability to verify North Korea's claims it destroyed its nuclear cite, and unreturned communications as contributing reasons.
It was Mr. Trump who made the decision Thursday morning to call off the June 12 summit, CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports, according to a senior administration official. Mr. Trump met with national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Vice President Mike Pence. Some on the "staff level" — specifically chief of staff John Kelly — were also involved in the discussion.
The decision to scuttle the summit came after a late-night huddle between Pompeo, Bolton, the vice president and the president, following a North Korean statement slamming Pence. That statement was issued Wednesday night, and then generated the late-night conversation.
The regime's statement Wednesday night may have been the final straw, but in recent days, prospects for the summit itself had been dimming, as North Korea appeared to be trying to "move the goal posts" for the meeting, specifically on the issue of the military exercises. Mr. Trump alluded to this recently, when he had raised questions about whether the summit would take place.
Another factor was the North Koreans' silence over the past five to 10 days, Brennan reports. Communications had "basically ceased" in the words of this senior administration official, despite outreach by Pompeo and South Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in did not have much new information when he came to the White House two days ago. Brennan was also told that Pence's recent reference to the so-called "Libya model" during an appearance this week on Fox News wasn't a deliberate effort to provoke the North. Pence had apparently been trying to clarify and use similar language to that of the president, when he talked about the "Libya model."
The "Libya model," as far as North Korea is concerned, was an abject failure, given that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi ended up dead eight years after giving up his nuclear weapons program. National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested to Brennan on "Face the Nation" last month that the "Libya model" could be applied to North Korea, but the North reacted poorly, and Mr. Trump construed it as a threat that would apply only if Kim Jong Un did not denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Pompeo publicly claimed Thursday during congressional testimony that Bolton's original remarks about Libya were not meant as a veiled reference to the death of Gaddafi in 2011, but rather to the process used by the Bush administration in 2003-2004 to disarm Libya and welcome it into the international community.
The change in tone from the North, referencing a nuclear showdown, and the military exercise rhetoric indicated that something was changing. The president has an "inkling" of what that is and has publicly suggested that China may be meddling with the diplomatic efforts. Brennan specifically asked the official if the past few days of trade tension with China, as well as the decision yesterday by the U.S. to disinvite China from military exercises had accounted for the shift. This official said that is "definitely a piece of it."