It appears President Trump is once again backing off his warning that the historic summit with North Korea - which is set to take place June 12 in Singapore - might not happen.
In comments that were likely intended to sooth North Korea's concerns about the so-called "Libya model" (i.e., the idea that the west would topple the North Korean regime shortly after it gives up its nuclear weapons, just like what happened with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi), Trump said during an interview with Fox & Friends that the US might endorse a more "gradual" process of denuclearization.
Trump also commented on the NFL's decision to ban kneeling during the national anthem, saying the "NFL owners did the right thing" and that players who don't stand for the anthem "shouldn't be playing and maybe...shouldn't be in the country."
He added that he'd still be disappointed with any player who chose to wait in the locker room during the anthem.
Circling back to North Korea, Trump's remarks are a departure from last week when reports surfaced claiming the US had asked the North to consider starting to ship its weapons abroad within six to twelve months, a position that we imagine the North Koreans weren't too thrilled with.
Trump on denuclearization of North Korea: I would like to have it done immediately. Physically, a phase-in may be necessary. pic.twitter.com/kbx2YOP9yk— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 24, 2018
When asked whether he would attend the Singapore summit, Trump reiterated his usual line ("we'll see what happens") though he added that there's a "good chance" the meeting will happen.
While Trump says he'd like to see the North give up its nukes all at once, he added that, due to the logistics of moving the nukes, a "phase-in" might be necessary.
"We are going to see. I would like to have it done immediately. Physically, a phase-in may be a little bit necessary. It would have to be a rapid phase-in."
And while North Korea says it's moving ahead with the closure of its (already ruined) nuclear test site, signs of tension remain. For example, a senior North Korean official called Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" yesterday following an escalating series of harsh verbal outbursts.
Some other comments from the interview, courtesy of Axios:
- On an immigration deal: "I think it’s time to get the whole package, it’s not such a big deal, Brian. It’s time to get the whole package."
- On James Comey: "I think a thing that I’ve done for the country — the firing of James Comey — is going to go down as a very good thing."