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  • ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- On the heels of a historic meeting between President Trump and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, top Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill remain skeptical that a peace agreement can ever be reached with the brutal dictator.Republicans are cautiously optimistic that a denuclearization treaty can be reached, but are warning Trump that Kim Jong Un is not to be trusted.Democrats say the president has given legitimacy to a hostile regime in a meeting that mostly amounted to nothing but significant concessions to North Korea without any meaningful commitments in return.The two senators who perhaps understand what is at stake the most: Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the chair and ranking member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.“I read the statement and it's difficult for me to see if something was actually agreed to or not,” Corker said. He called the agreement between Trump and Kim Jong Un nothing more than a “few sentences on a sheet of paper” that were “very aspirational.”“I don’t think we know enough to challenge or celebrate,” Corker went on.Menendez’s assessment of the agreement was a bit more blunt.“I have to be honest with you. This is the weakest statement that I have ever seen come out of any engagement with North Korea, much less at the highest ranking of the president of the United States meeting with Kim Jong Un. It’s amazing,” Menendez said.Democrats have blasted the summit as nothing but a photo op that played directly into Kim Jong Un’s hands.“This seems to me to be more of a reality TV photo op handshake summit than a summit with a real strategy behind it,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told reporters.The worry among most Democrats is that the meeting has further legitimized Kim Jong Un’s brutal regime, one that is fraught with egregious human rights violations and atrocities."It is worrisome, very worrisome that this joint statement is so imprecise. What the US has gained is vague and unverifiable at best. What North Korea has gained is tangible and lasting. We've legitimized a brutal dictator who's starved his own people,” the Senate’s top Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.In a statement, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., slammed Trump for his apparent display of affection towards the North Korean leader."I was appalled that President Trump spoke so positively, even fondly, of a brutal, oppressive tyrant. He elevated Kim to legitimacy on the world stage, when he deserves condemnation as a human rights pariah," Blumemthal said.The friendly language seemingly rubbed GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida the wrong way, too."One more thing about KJU. While I know @potus is trying to butter him up to get a good deal, #KJU is NOT a talented guy. He inherited the family business from his dad & grandfather. He is a total weirdo who would not be elected assistant dog catcher in any democracy," Rubio said in a tweet.Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said in a statement the ramifications of meeting with Kim Jong Un will have "serious negative consequences for American national security," and it exposed Trump as an “unprepared, weak negotiator.”But many Republicans have come to the president’s defense, and have offered a measured response to Trump for accomplishing what no other president in recent history has been able to achieve.And, they are cautiously optimistic that North Korea will eventually denuclearize.“There's certainly nothing in the history of Kim Jong Un or his father or his grandfather that would demonstrate we should be optimistic, but having said, that you've got to try,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said.Republican senators have suggested that the lack of detail in the agreement was not unexpected, and that the summit was mainly a “first step&rdquo
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  • ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker erupted on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon — oftentimes raising his voice and wildly flailing his hands — his animated anger implicitly aimed at his GOP colleagues, whom he accused of being afraid of President Donald Trump."No no no, we might poke the bear' is the language I’ve been hearing in the hallways. 'We might poke the bear. The president of the United States might get upset with us," Corker said, deriding his colleagues.Corker was infuriated over objection to his tariff legislation, which would seek to limit Trump's authority to issue national security tariffs. The bill, which has 13 co-sponsors, would require the president to receive Congressional approval before restricting trade on the grounds of national security.Corker has been angling to get his legislation added as an amendment to the defense appropriation bill, a must-pass measure that the Senate is currently debating. On Tuesday, he asked that his amendment be called up so it could be voted up-or-down by the Senate. But his Republican colleague, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, objected to the motion.In recent days, Republican leaders have opposed the measure, citing their concerns over tying the president's hand in negotiating a better trade deal.The objection incensed Corker, who went on a lengthy and impassioned speech bemoaning his frustrations."Because senators, United States senators who are elected by the people in their state, don't want to cast a tough vote, they block everybody from voting," Corker said."I heard the senior senator from Texas saying the other day, 'well gosh, we might upset the president of the United States before the midterms! So gosh, we can't vote on the Corker amendment because, we're taking rightly so, the responsibilities that we to do with tariffs and revenues. We can't do that because we'd be upsetting the president,'" Corker said, referring to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn."I can't believe it," Corker exclaimed."If people don't like it, they can vote up or down," Corker went on. "But no, the United States Senate right now, on June 12, is becoming a body where, well, we can do what we can do, but my gosh if the president gets upset with us, we might not be in the majority, and so let's not do anything that might upset the president."
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republicans say they would be more aggressive in tying President Donald Trump’s hands when it comes to imposing tariffs on allies if he were not in the middle of trade negotiations with some of those same allies.They said an effort led by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to weaken the president’s ability to unilaterally penalize trade partners might be more successful sometime after this weekend’s G7 meeting, where Trump is expected to come face-to-face with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has sharply criticized the administration for its new tariffs on steel and aluminum.For now, lawmakers might be skeptical about Trump’s use of a tariff action that’s only supposed to be used for legitimate national security concerns, but they are more focused on his having a strong position in the ongoing talks.“I think in the long term it would be good but do we need it absolutely now? I do not want to take leverage away from President Trump as he’s negotiating,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who said he agrees with Corker on the merits, told ABC.Corker’s bill, introduced Wednesday, would require Congress’ approval for any tariffs imposed under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which is only supposed to be applied when the United States have national security concerns with the country it wants to penalize. Congress would have 60 days to approve such proposals by a 60-vote supermajority, or else the tariff proposal would die. Corker’s bill would apply retroactively to the recent tariffs Trump has imposed.In early March, the president announced a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum. The administration temporarily exempted Mexico, Canada and the EU from the tariffs but last week announced it would remove those exemptions.Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has slammed the tariffs and, in a call last month, reportedly questioned how tariffs could be imposed on Canada, the close U.S. ally and neighbor, on the basis of national security.As the two countries feud, they are, along with Mexico, also in the midst of discussions to renegotiate the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Senate Republicans say they don’t want to consider Corker’s bill right now because they don’t want to tie his hands in the middle of these current talks, even if they think Trump is using the national security justification too liberally.“Intellectually, I agree with Bob Corker. This law has been used for a long time; it’s never been used this aggressively. But my goal is to give the president space so he can try to get better deals,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was one of a handful of Senate Republicans who met with President Trump Wednesday to talk trade, said.Johnson, who was also at the meeting, said the president spent two hours with the lawmakers yesterday giving them greater insight into what he’s trying to do.“He makes some pretty darn good arguments about bilateral agreements, why he needs the leverage,” Johnson said.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said during an interview with SiriusXM Wednesday that trying to rein in the president’s tariff authority was an “exercise in futility” and has said senators should focus on trying to convince Trump not to go too far in imposing tariffs, seeming to signal that he wouldn't support the bill even if it were brought up at a later time.But not all of his conference agrees. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that the bill “appears to be a limited, reasonable response” because it would only be for tariffs related to national security concerns.And other Republicans are worried Trump is spending too much time making flimsy national security arguments and not enough time focused on legitimate national security threats like Chinese telecom ZTE, which the Pentagon and i
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  • Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Melania Trump’s office is sending a strong and clear message when it comes to Rudy Giuliani: Mrs. Trump speaks for herself, thank you very much.On Wednesday when addressing a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was asked about first lady's reaction to an alleged affair between Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels.Giuliani replied, the first lady “believes her husband, and she knows it’s untrue. I don't even think there's a slight suspicion that it's true.But Thursday, the first lady’s spokesperson forcefully swatted back.“I don’t believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani,” Stephanie Grisham, communications director for the first lady, told ABC News.Mrs. Trump, who just Wednesday re-emerged for the first time after weeks out of the spotlight, has not discussed the alleged sexual encounter between Trump and Daniels in public. Mrs. Trump was a young mother at the time of the alleged affair.Daniels went public about her relationship with Trump early this year in an attempt to void a nondisclosure agreement and bring attention to a $130,000 hush money payment the president's lawyer made just weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Trump now admits he reimbursed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the payment.In Israel, Giuliani went on to criticize Daniels’ credibility and allegation she had an affair with Trump because she is a porn star.“Look at his three wives. Beautiful women. Classy women. Women of great substance. Stormy Daniels?” Giuliani said while shaking his head. “I’m sorry I don’t respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a woman who has great respect for herself as a woman and as a person and isn’t going to sell her body for sexual exploitation.”Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti replied by calling Giuliani a “misogynist” on Twitter.“Mr. Giuliani is a misogynist. His most recent comments regarding my client, who passed a lie detector test and who the American people believe, are disgusting and a disgrace. His client Mr. Trump didn’t seem to have any “moral” issues with her and others back in 2006 and beyond,” Avenatti tweeted.On Thursday, Giuliani was asked to explain his comments.“So the point I made about her industry is, it's an industry in which you sell looks at your body for money. That's demeaning to women, the way I was brought up and the way I always believed the feminist movement has,” Giuliani said.“The only reason I answered it was to, I think, say what the vast majority of Americans would say to somebody engaged in the kind of behavior she’s been engaged in – which is looking for money.”
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  • Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Just days ahead of next week's summit between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Singapore, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined Trump at the White House Thursday, using the chance to remind him of Japanese interests in the upcoming negotiations.Standing side by side in the Rose Garden for a joint news conference, the two leaders expressed optimism about the upcoming summit, which Trump called off just two weeks ago before changing his mind again.“I hope the upcoming meeting in Singapore represents the beginning of a bright new future for North Korea and indeed a bright new future for the world,” said Trump.Abe, who has developed a close diplomatic relationship with Trump, praised Trump for his work in organizing the Singapore summit and said he hopes it is a “great success.”“I would like to pay my deep respect to the outstanding leadership of President Trump, as he made this decision that no past presidents were able to accomplish,” Abe said.Trump, once again complained that past presidents failed to deal successfully with the North Korea problem."This should have been solved by many others," Trump said. "But it wasn't so I'll solve it and we'll get it done," Trump said.Trump even said that if the negotiations are successful he would invite Kim to the White House. Still, Trump tried to tamp down expectations.“I believe we'll have a terrific success or a modified success,” Trump said. “And things can happen between now and then.”Last week, after being visited by North Korea’s former spy chief, Trump said he no longer plans to keep “maximum pressure” on the hermit, communist country until it eliminates nuclear weapons. But Thursday, Trump said “yes, maximum pressure is in full effect.”“We don't use the term anymore because we're going into a friendly negotiation,” Trump said.“We'll know how well we do with the negotiation. If you see me say we're going to use maximum pressure, you know the negotiation did not do well, frankly.”Trump added that sanctions on North Korea remain in place.“They have to de-nuke,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “If they don't denuclearize, that will not be acceptable. We cannot take sanctions off. The sanctions are extraordinarily powerful.”In the Rose Garden, Trump described the giant, oversized letter delivered to him by North Korean diplomats in the Oval Office as “just a greeting.”“It was really a very warm letter, a very nice letter. I appreciated it very much,” Trump said.Before leaving for Washington, Abe told reporters in Japan, “I want to make sure to be on the same page with President Trump ahead of the first ever U.S.-North Korea summit so we can push forward nuclear and missile issues, and most importantly the abduction problem, and make for a successful summit."At the forefront of Abe’s wishes for the summit is the release of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, including one 13-year old girl who was taken away from her family 45 years ago.“It's the long-held desire of the Japanese people to have her and all of their abductees come home so that the parents, while they're healthy, can embrace the girl and other abductees again in their arms,” Abe said.Abe, the first foreign leader to meet President-elect Trump following his election, has remained one of Trump’s closet allies. Trump hosted Abe twice at his private Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.The highly anticipated summit is scheduled to kick off with a 9:00 AM meeting between Kim and Trump in Singapore.In a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump said he’s “very well prepared.” The president has been receiving a daily briefing by his team of national security experts, including new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo."I don't think I have to prepare v
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