McCain: North Korea first 'real test' of Trump presidency


Today on Meet the Press, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., articulated the dangers of the North Korea threat. 

‘I mean this is very serious,’ the senator said. ‘This may be the first test of this presidency.’  

In the last 24 hours, North Korea attempted yet another missile test – though this one failed – while President Trump tweeted in defense of his decision to cozy up with the Chinese. 

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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pointed to the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and suggested it could be the first 'real test' of the Trump presidency

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pointed to the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and suggested it could be the first 'real test' of the Trump presidency

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pointed to the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and suggested it could be the first ‘real test’ of the Trump presidency

Sitting down with Meet the Press's Chuck Todd (right), Sen. John McCain (left) talked about the 'very serious' problem of North Korea 

Sitting down with Meet the Press's Chuck Todd (right), Sen. John McCain (left) talked about the 'very serious' problem of North Korea 

Sitting down with Meet the Press’s Chuck Todd (right), Sen. John McCain (left) talked about the ‘very serious’ problem of North Korea 

‘Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?’ Trump wrote Sunday morning. 

When Todd asked for McCain’s take on Trump’s tweet, the Arizona senator acknowledge that China is the ‘key’ to taking care of the North Korea problem. 

‘They can stop this if they want to because of their control over the North Korean economy,’ McCain noted. 

The longtime senator pointed out that there’s artillery on the border between North Korea and South Korea, and Seoul could be struck before the U.S., or anyone else, had time to react. 

‘But China can shut them down and we should, whether they’re currency manipulators or not, we should expect them to act to prevent what could be a cataclysmic event,’ McCain said. 

Asked if he approved of Trump’s approach, to back off on some of the harder language the president used on China pertaining to currency and trade on the campaign trail in order to get President Xi and the Chinese to help the Americans on North Korea, McCain seemed to agree.

‘To prevent North Korea from having a missile with a nuclear weapon that could strike the United States and we would have to rely on our ability to intercept it, and by the way I’m told that we do have that ability, is still awfully risky business,’ McCain said. 

Donald Trump started off his Easter Sunday by tweeting about his recent talks with Chinese President Xi, explaining that he wants to work with China to solve the North Korea problem 

Donald Trump started off his Easter Sunday by tweeting about his recent talks with Chinese President Xi, explaining that he wants to work with China to solve the North Korea problem 

Donald Trump started off his Easter Sunday by tweeting about his recent talks with Chinese President Xi, explaining that he wants to work with China to solve the North Korea problem 

‘So this is really very serious,’ the Republican added.   

Despite touting the U.S.’s missile defense technology, McCain said he didn’t quite buy reports that suggested the U.S. sabotaged this weekend’s North Korean missile launch.

‘I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t rule it out,’ he said.  

McCain also said it wasn’t Trump’s fault that tensions in the region are rising. 

‘[The North Koreans] have made steady progress while we have made agreement after agreement after agreement,’ the Arizona Republican pointed out. ‘Chuck, how many times on this show have they said, “Oh, we have now a comprehensive agreement with North Korea?”‘ he said of American politicians. 

‘And so I’m not blaming Trump for this. I’m blaming Republican and Democrat presidents over the last twenty years,’ McCain said. 

He also pointed a finger at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, noting that the 33-year-old leader is different than his late father, Kim Jong-il, and grandfather, Kim Il-sung. 

‘This guy in North Korea is not rational,’ McCain said. ‘His father and his grandfather were much more rational than he is.’

And that’s why, McCain argued, you ‘never’ really want to have to use the military option on the divided Korean peninsula. 

‘Because of this proximity of North Korean artillery to Seoul, a city of how many million people,’ McCain said. ‘But, at the same time, to risk a situations where they have that ability and we rely on our ability to intercept.’ 

‘This could be the first test, real test, of the Trump presidency,’ he repeated. ‘And, by the way, I believe that he’ll get very good advice from Mattis and from McMaster.’   



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