Trump’s ‘unpredictability’ and ‘bellicosity’ had something to do with North Korea’s deciding to negotiate: Top Democrat

Rep. Adam Schiff said, "There's more than a ray of light there."

April 29, 2018, 10:54 AM

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said there is “more than a ray of light” in the Trump administration's dealings with Kim Jong Un over his nuclear program.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California responded to ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl's comment on "This Week" Sunday recalling what former President Obama told President Donald Trump about North Korea.

“I remember well when President Obama had his first meeting with President-elect Trump," Karl said, "and he said that the biggest challenge in the new president's agenda was going to be North Korea, and it looked -- I mean it looked very dark, and now there is -- there is an opportunity.”

Schiff responded, “There is more than a ray of light here.”

Asked if he believes Trump deserves some credit for the opening with North Korea, Schiff said, “I think it’s more than fair to say that the combination of the president’s unpredictability and, indeed, his bellicosity had something to do with the North Koreans deciding to come to the table. But before the president takes too much credit or hangs out the 'mission accomplished' banner, he needs to realize that we may go into a confrontational phase and he may not want the full blame if things go south.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) arrives for a closed-door briefing on Syria for the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 17, 2018.
Joshua Roberts/Reuters

At a rally in Michigan on Saturday night, Trump spoke of the progress with North Korea, saying, “I had one of the fake news groups this morning. They were saying, 'What do you think President Trump had to do with it?' I'll tell you what. Like, how about everything?”

The House Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat also said the Trump administration needs to be cautious in any negotiations with Kim Jong Un.

In previous talks, it has turned out that North Koreans "have something very different in mind when they talk about denuclearization: 'Yes, if the U.S. gives up their nukes, we’ll give up ours; if the U.S. leaves the Korean Peninsula, then we can talk,'" Schiff said.

The question for the Trump administration over Kim Jong Un's stated willingness to negotiate is, "Is this something new, or is this simply Kim Jong Un as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, who is in the phase right now of conciliation?" Schiff said.

North and South Korean leaders met Friday and vowed to formally end to their six-decade long war by the end of the year, and to work to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel  in the East Room of the White House, April 27, 2018.
President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House, April 27, 2018.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Schiff on "This Week" cautioned that the Trump administration's threat to possibly pull out of the Iran nuclear deal could weaken its chances of success with North Korea.

"If we drop out of the Iran agreement, if we renege on the Iran deal when the Iranians are complying, it is, I think, dangerously naïve to think that this is not going to influence whether the North Koreans think we can be trusted and what’s more, whether the rest of the world will have confidence that the U.S. keeps its word," the congressman said.

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