Trump’s secret deals (or no deals)

No one seems to know what sort of deals Donald trump may have made with North Korea or Russia.

Fox News: Lawmakers struggle to decode Trump’s ‘secret’ to deal with Russia, North Korea

It’s unclear if the Trump Administration has a “secret plan” to deal with Russia or North Korea. But whatever the circumstances, it’s still secret after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about President Trump’s meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the status of North Korean denuclearization. Try as they may, senators weren’t able to exhume much information from Pompeo about what went down in Helsinki or the state of play with Pyongyang.

“I’m afraid that at this point, the United States, the Trump Administration is being taken for a ride,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

“Fear not, senator. Fear not,” advised Pompeo.

But there was “fear.” Senators wondered if the President agreed to something in secret with foreign leaders and if even Pompeo was cut out of the loop.

“It’s not for me to disclose the contents of those conversations,” said Pompeo when asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., about what was said in Finland regarding Russia’s role in Syria.

“I’d prefer not to answer questions about the nature of our negotiations,” said Pompeo when Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., asked about North Korea.

Lawmakers of both parties struggle to make sense of what policies the Trump administration holds by the hour.

Trump created more confusion than normal after his meeting with Putin in Helsinki, changing a ‘would’ to ‘wouldn’t’ after widespread concern was expressed.

Pompeo create his own confusion:

“We focus on words from the President because our allies and our adversaries listen to those words and they calibrate their actions based upon those words,” observed Murphy.

Murphy asked whether the President’s statements constituted U.S. policy, specifically when Mr. Trump suggested the U.S. might not assist Montenegro, despite a NATO treaty which states otherwise.

“I think the President’s been unambiguously clear,” said Pompeo.

Yeah, all the time. He makes a thing of being clearly unclear. Or is that unclearly clear?

A moment later, Murphy suggested that “policies are statements and statements are policies.”

“No, that’s not true,” responded Pompeo. “I make lots of statements. They’re not U.S. policy. The President says things.”

“How do I know the difference between a presidential statement that is not a policy and statement that is?” asked Murphy.

But later in the hearing, Pompeo asked if he could “clean that up.”

“I misspoke there,” said Pompeo. “The President runs this government. His statements are in fact U.S. policy.”

It is becoming a secretive, misspoken presidency.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., waited until midway through the hearing to press Pompeo on this point. Corker told the Secretary that “much of what you are hearing today has nothing whatsoever to do with you.”

“It’s the President that causes people to have concerns,” said Corker.

“Why does he do those things? I mean, is there some strategy behind creating doubt in U.S. senator’s minds on both sides of the aisle? Doubt in the American people as to what his motivations are?” asked Corker.

That’s from a senior Republican politician.

Senators of both parties failed to pierce Pompeo’s armor and learn anything at all about Singapore or Helsinki.

That could be because Trump also keeps his deals secret from his Secretary of State. I hope he knows what his deals are.