Trump tries to press China, but US appears at a loss over next steps on North Korea
Developments on Day 165 of the Trump Adminstration:
Did Trump Just Tell China To Attack North Korea?
[UPDATE 1000 GMT: North Korea said on Tuesday that it has successfully conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The US military said hours earlier that Pyongyang sent the missile aloft for 37 minutes. That duration suggests a significant improvement in the missile range, possibly as far as 4,000 miles to reach Alaska.
The missile took off from the Banghyon airfield in the northwestern town of Kusong and flew 578 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said.]
Donald Trump uses Twitter to send a message to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, following their phone call on Sunday.
North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2017
….and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2017
Trump’s tweets are yet another shift in his public position on China and North Korea, including Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump denounced Beijing for “raping” the US economy. However, he appeared to pursue rapprochement after receiving Xi at his Florida resort in February, praising the China leader and saying that he was looking forward to constructive relations with Beijing over the North Korean issue.
However, in March the Trump Administration stumbled in an attempt to pressure North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with the Trump’s declaration of a US “armada” moving to the Korean coast only raising uncertainty and confusion as Pyongyang responded with its own threats. So attention returned to the possibility of China — North Korea’s largest and arguably essential trade link — putting economic pressure on Pyongyang.
On June 20, Trump used Twitter to say that the attempt had failed:
While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2017
The Administration accompanied this with a series of steps that appeared to be punishment of the Chinese, including a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan and sanctions on a Chinese bank, as Trump said the time for “strategic patience” with North Korea ended.
Trump’s latest tweet appeared to be an acknowledgement that the US has no effective approach without cooperation from the Chinese, while at the same time holding out the prospect that Washington could use a combination of enticement and punishment to shift Beijing’s position.
US officials said they hoped that tough US steps would bring Xi to reconsider his reluctance to press North Korea, although one official said Trump “now has fewer illusions that China will radically alter its approach”.
There was no indication from the officials of a US alternative policy. Trump and his advisors have ruled out diplomacy, and there seems to be no prospect for a military plan.
Instead, Trump’s phone call to Xi on Sunday, raising the “growing threat” of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, came after an American guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed territory claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea. China denounced the “serious political and military provocation”.
Following the Trump-Xi call, the Chinese said the relationship was being “affected by some negative factors”.
Court Blocks EPA Effort to Suspend Obama-Era Methane Rule
A federal appeals court rules that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot suspend an Obama-era rule to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells.
The US Court of Appeals for Washington DC ruled 2-1 against EPA head Scott Pruitt, who is trying to roll back dozens of environmental regulations.
Pruitt had first imposed a 90-day moratorium on enforcement of parts of the EPA methane regulation under the Clean Air Act, later extending this to two years. He argued that his action was not subject to judicial review, but the appeals court ruled that his actions were “unreasonable,” “arbitrary”, and “capricious”.
The judges said that the EPA had the right to reverse the methane regulations but would have to undertake a new rule-making process.
Senior Justice Department Official Quits Over Trump Administration’s Ethics Issues
A Justice Department official responsible for corporate compliance has quit, saying that she could no longer force companies to adhere to ethics laws when members of the Trump Administration have conducted themselves in a manner that she claims are not acceptable under those laws.
Hui Chen served in the department’s compliance counsel office from November 2015 until she resigned in June.
“To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic,” Chen wrote on LinkedIn.
She cited multiple court cases filed against Donald Trump over his ongoing ties to his business interests:
Even as I engaged in those questioning and evaluations, on my mind were the numerous lawsuits pending against the President of the United States for everything from violations of the Constitution to conflict of interest, the ongoing investigations of potentially treasonous conducts, and the investigators and prosecutors fired for their pursuits of principles and facts.
Those are conducts I would not tolerate seeing in a company, yet I worked under an administration that engaged in exactly those conduct. I wanted no more part in it.