Distractions to Diplomacy as Trump Returns to New York
U.S. President Donald Trump has been uncharacteristically mute just before days of whirlwind of diplomacy during the U.N. General Assembly.
Trump took a rare respite from Twitter amid several pending matters likely to define his presidency. There have been no substantive tweets from the president since Friday when he commented on his controversial order to declassify documents about the Russia probe (which is now under review) and also accused opposition Democrats of obstructing the confirmation process for his second nominee for a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The president is to dine Sunday in New York with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is among a number of world leaders gathering for the 73rd U.N. General Assembly session.
Trump and Abe are certain to discuss trade differences, as well as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in traveled to Pyongyang and signed agreements with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
The U.S. president is also set to meet this week with the leaders of Britain, Colombia, Egypt, France and Israel.
Monday, Trump is to attend an event that is intended to spark global action on international cooperation to curb illegal drug use and cut narcotics’ supply chains.
The following day the president addresses the U.N. General Assembly and he chairs the world body’s security council meeting the following day.
The session at the security council, where the United States currently holds the gavel, was to focus on criticism of Iran, but now will be broadened, according to U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.
“We were addressing so many issues,” said Haley. “The administration thought it’d be valuable to expand that. The president didn’t want it to be limited. Iran is certainly part of that discussion.”
Trump, in a subsequent tweet last week insisted the meeting will be about Iran.
Already high tension between Washington and Tehran, subsequent to Trump withdrawing from an international accord on Iran’s nuclear weapons freeze, is further tightening following a shooting attack Saturday on an Iranian military parade.
Top Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, vow revenge and are blaming the United States and Gulf Arab states.
Haley rejects blame for the attack in Ahvaz, which killed at least 29 people.
“Rouhani can blame us all he wants. The thing he’s got to do is look at the mirror,” Haley told CNN on Sunday.
Rouhani will be at the United Nations this week.
In a speech to a group opposing the Iran government on Saturday, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani predicted the United States will plot a successful revolution in Iran.
“It could be in a few days, months, a couple of years. But it’s going to happen,”said the former New York City mayor.
“The United States is not looking to do a regime change in Iran,” Haley responded Sunday. “We’re not looking to do regime change anywhere.”
While in New York confronting Iran and other geo-political challenges, Trump is likely to have one eye firmly fixed on developments in Washington.
The confirmation in the Senate for his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, continues.
The Senate’s Judiciary Committee this week is to hear from a California psychology professor, Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of a sexual assault when they were high school students.
“We made important progress on our call this morning with Senate Judiciary Committee staff members,” said attorneys for Ford in a statement on Sunday. “We committed to moving forward with an open hearing onThursday Sept 27 at 10:00 am. Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for Senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel has reportedly telephoned Trump to tell him his tweets questioning Ford’s motivations for making the accusation are not helpful to the confirmation process.
Meanwhile, Trump is said to be considering whether to remove the second-in-command at the Justice Department after news reports Rod Rosenstein suggested secretly recording the president last year and discussed the possibility of invoking a constitutional amendment to remove Trump from office.
Rosenstein vehemently denies he “pursued or authorized” the recording of the president.
Rosenstein oversees the special counsel’s investigation of connections between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russia as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the matter.