Kamala Harris rips Donald Trump over Kim Jong-un relationship

May 12, 2019 GMT

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris on Sunday criticized President Trump’s relationship with North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un.

“We cannot put our arms and embrace this North Korean dictator in the way this president has done,” the California Democrat told CNN.

Tension between the U.S. and North Korea escalated this week as Pyongyang conducted a fresh round of missile tests and the Trump administration announced the seizure of a North Korean ship accused of smuggling coal and heavy machinery in defiance of international sanctions.

Mr. Trump has insisted that North Korea commit to full denuclearization before any sanctions are lifted, but administration officials since Hanoi have also embraced a tempered posture toward North Korean provocations and rhetoric.

“This unilateral approach to foreign policy that includes embracing a dictator and taking his word over the American intelligence community is not smart and I believe is not in the best interest of our nation,” Sen. Harris said.

Mr. Trump faced regular sharp critiques from Capitol Hill on foreign policy in his first two years in office and enjoyed a relatively free hand re-shaping American foreign policy, from an aggressive new protectionist approach on trade to withdrawing from international pacts such as the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.

However, since the House flipped in January, the new Congress has shown little deference to the president on key foreign policy matters.

On the same CNN program, Rep. Michael Waltz, Florida Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee, appeared to lean towards Sen. Harris’ sentiments on the president’s approach to North Korea.

“I do think we need to draw a line in the sand going forward,” he said.

Rep. Waltz said that while he supported Mr. Trump’s decision to walk away from a denuclearization deal with North Korea at the second summit in February, “at some point we have to say we tried enough, and go back to fully choking the regime economically.”