AP NEWS

Top House Democrats demand details of Trump North Korea outreach

February 21, 2019

The Democratic heads of the House intelligence, defense and foreign affairs panels committees issued a joint demand that the Trump White House reveal more of its interactions with North Korea and to explain why the president and U.S. intelligence agencies appear at odds over the threat posed by Pyongyang.

While saying they supported Mr. Trump’s diplomatic approach to the crisis, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel of New York, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith of Washington state and House intelligence panel chief Adam Schiff of California sent a sharply worded letter demanding more “transparency” on Mr. Trump plans to curb the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

The letter comes days before Mr. Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Feb. 27-28 in Hanoi, following up on their historic first meeting last June in Singapore.

“The constituents whom we represent would very likely welcome another presidential summit with Chairman Kim [but] a summit that amounts to little more than spectacle will further erode the public confidence and the credibility of the United States,” according to the letter.

In particular, House lawmakers complained that a second North Korea summit has been set even though Congress has yet to be briefed by the White House on the recommendations from the initial meeting in Singapore.

“There is no legitimate reason for having failed to provide regular, senior-level briefings to the relevant committees of jurisdiction on a matter of such significance to our national security,” the lawmakers wrote, saying that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should brief Capitol Hill one week after the Hanoi summit.

The committee chiefs are also requesting details of the administration’s plans to gauge whether North Korea’s promised denuclearization promises are being carried out. “This is a necessary element in fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities and we request your administration expedite its completion and provide it to Congress without delay,” they wrote.

Top U.S. military and intelligence analysts have said they see no sign that Pyongyang is willing to surrender its nuclear arsenal, despite Mr. Trump’s claims to the contrary.

“We currently assess that North Korea is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress late last month.