Distractions to Diplomacy as Trump Returns to New York

NEW YORK, U.S. President Donald Trump was uncharacteristically mute prior to the start of whirlwind of diplomacy during the U.N. General Assembly.

Trump took a rare respite from Twitter Saturday and Sunday while at his private golf club in New Jersey, amid several pending matters likely to define his presidency.

There were no substantive tweets from the president following his Friday’s comments on his controversial order to declassify documents about the Russia probe (which is now under review) and also accuse opposition Democrats of obstructing the confirmation process for his second nominee for a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump 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.

Just ahead of the dinner Trump, putting pressure on Abe, tweeted, “We have done much to help Japan, would like to see more of a reciprocal relationship.”

Besides trade differences and the costs of hosting U.S. forces in Japan, Trump and Abe were also certain to discuss 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.

Week ahead

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 narcotic supply chains.

The following day he will address the U.N. General Assembly. And on Wednesday, he will chair the world body’s Security Council meeting.

The session at the U.N. Security Council, where the United States currently holds the monthly rotating presidency, was to focus on criticism of Iran, but now will be broadened, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said.

“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 25 people and wounded nearly 70.

“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,” the former New York City mayor said.

“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.”

Supreme Court nominee

While in New York confronting Iran and other geopolitical 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 on Thursday, 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 McConnell 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.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has jumped into the fray, suggesting government officials who are not loyal to Trump should quit.

“If you can’t be on the team, if you’re not supporting this mission, then maybe you ought to find something else to do,” Pompeo, a former CIA director, said on a Fox News program that aired Sunday.

Source: Voice of America