(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist said the president is trying to make peace with North Korea but is getting unfairly “vilified” following his summit with Kim Jong Un.
“President Trump is trying to be a peacemaker,” Steve Bannon said in an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on This Week Sunday. “He is being vilified.”
Trump and Kim signed a one-page letter at their meeting in Singapore announcing the intent to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The president afterward said he wanted to end the United States’ joint military exercises with South Korea.
The summit and Trump’s later comments have raised questions and drawn some criticism, including over whether the president has lavished too much praise on Kim, a brutal dictator; when any specifics will be announced on ending North Korea’s nuclear program; and whether Trump is working closely enough with U.S. allies South Korea and Japan on North Korea policy.
Bannon continued that Trump’s meeting with Kim helps to curb Chinese influence in the Far East.
“Donald Trump is handed cards, OK, with the inexorable rise of China and — and Korea, it’s vassal state as a — as a nuclear threat to our allies in the northwest Pacific in the United States. That’s what he’s dealt with,” Bannon said. “And — and what does everybody say about Trump? ‘Oh he’s an isolationist, he’s going to go it alone.'”
Bannon suggested that Republican members of Congress should be touting Trump’s North Korea summit rather than criticizing its outcome.
“Where is the Republican establishment on Capitol Hill? Where are [Sen. Bob] Corker and all those guys flooding these Sunday morning shows? Why am I here?” Bannon asked. “Why are they not flooding these Sunday morning shows, talking about how the president of the United States is finally engaged with our allies in the Pacific to stop Chinese hegemony?”
Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that he was “happy” the president met with Kim, but he questioned the strength of the document Trump and Kim signed in Singapore.
“I read the statement and it’s difficult for me to see if something was actually agreed to or not,” Corker said. “I don’t think we know enough to challenge or celebrate.”
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