Donald Trump has thrown Seoul, the Pentagon, and Capitol Hill Republicans into a tailspin over his seat-of-the-pants announcement that the U.S. would suspend joint military exercises, which he called “war games,” with South Korea. The AP writes:
President Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement Tuesday that he will suspend U.S. military drills in South Korea appeared to catch the Pentagon and the Seoul government flat-footed, and it contradicted a pillar of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s campaign to make U.S. troops more combat-ready.
The revelation is also causing consternation and lot of mixed signals from GOP lawmakers, who clearly don’t know what do with the fact that Trump gave away the farm to North Korea while getting nothing in return. First came an NBC interview in which GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado asserted that Vice President Mike Pence told Senate Republicans joint exercises with South Korea would actually continue.
I think what the Vice President said today, and we’ll continue to clarify what the president had talked about, exercises will continue with South Korea. I look forward to further comment and clarification from the president when he gets here.
Ruh-roh. Pence freaked out.
NEW: Pence’s press sec tells @lachlan that reports he said military exercises with Korea will continue are “false”
— Sam Stein (@samstein) June 12, 2018
Not so, insisted Gardner.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) June 12, 2018
Republicans are obviously trying to figure out how to wipe away the pie Trump just threw in their face with the meaningless one-page document he’s hailing as “very comprehensive.” But Trump’s whimsical announcement of upending the U.S. military alliance with Seoul is the worst of it for Republicans.
“I don’t think that’s wise because we have done these exercises for years,” Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said Tuesday.
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), typically an ardent supporter of the president, said he was “surprised” and “troubled” by Trump’s decision to end military exercises. “Coordination with the South Korean military is absolutely critical,” he told reporters at the Capitol.
Naturally, Trump thinks this whole thing was a “tremendous” success.
Sen. Barrasso says Pres. Trump just called Republicans from Air Force One on his trip back to the U.S. – says he Ã¢ÂÂsounded confident and upbeat.Ã¢ÂÂ
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) June 12, 2018