Trump's decision to call off summit
It was President Trump who made the decision this morning to call off the June 12 summit, CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports, according to a senior administration official. Mr. Trump met with Bolton, Pompeo, and the vice president. Some on the "staff level" -- specifically Kelly -- were also involved in the discussion. The decision to scuttle the summit came after a late-night huddle between Pompeo, Bolton, the vice president and the president, following the North Korean statement slamming Pence. The statement was issued after about 9 p.m. ET yesterday and then generated the late night conversation.
The regime's statement last night may have been the final straw, but in recent days, prospects for the summit itself had been dimming, as North Korea appeared to be trying to "move the goal posts" for the meeting, specifically on the issue of the military exercises. Mr. Trump alluded to this recently, when he had raised questions about whether the summit would take place.
Another factor was the North Koreans' silence over the past 5-10 days, Brennan reports. Communications had "basically ceased" in the words of this official despite outreach by Pompeo and South Korea. Moon Jae-in did not have much new information when he came to the White House two days ago.
Brennan was also told that Pence's recent reference to the so-called "Libya model" during an appearance this week on Fox News wasn't a deliberate effort to provoke the North. Pence had apparently been trying to clarify and use similar language to that of the president, when he talked about the "Libya model." The "Libya model," as far as North Korea is concerned, was an abject failure, given that Muammar Gaddafi ended up dead eight years after giving up his nuclear weapons program. Bolton suggested to Brennan on "Face the Nation" that the "Libya model" could be applied to North Korea, but after the North reacted poorly, Mr. Trump construed it as a threat that would apply only if Kim Jong Un did not denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly claimed today during public testimony that Bolton's original remarks about Libya were not meant as a veiled reference to the death of Gaddafi in 2011, but rather to the process used by the Bush administration in 2003-2004 to disarm Libya and welcome it into the international community.
The change in tone from the North, referencing a nuclear showdown, and the military exercise rhetoric indicated that something was changing. The president has an "inkling" of what that is and has publicly suggested it that China may be meddling with the diplomatic efforts. Brennan specifically asked the official if the past few days of trade tension with China, as well as the decision yesterday by the U.S. to disinvite China from military exercises had accounted for the shift. This official said that is "definitely a piece of it."
That said, the President is still open to a meeting with Kim at a future date. The White House wants to see how the North responds to today's letter.
Asked whether Pompeo and Bolton seem to be saying different things when it comes to plans for the North, the official told Brennan that Pompeo simply has to take a different tone because he is the diplomat -- but that the two are on the same page.