Trump links Cohen hearing with decision to abandon talks with North Korea

US President Donald Trump and his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. Cohen testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee about Mr Trump's misdeeds while the latter was attending a summit in Vietnam.
US President Donald Trump and his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. Cohen testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee about Mr Trump's misdeeds while the latter was attending a summit in Vietnam.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - United States President Donald Trump said that the House hearing of his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen contributed to his decision to walk away from negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in a new explanation for the collapsed talks between the leaders.

"For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the 'walk'," Mr Trump said on Twitter, referring to his decision to walk away from what he previously said was a bad deal with Mr Kim.

"Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!"

Last week in Hanoi, Mr Trump and Mr Kim met for the second time to try to negotiate a deal that would surrender some of North Korea's nuclear weapons arsenal in return for sanctions relief.

Mr Trump's account on Sunday (March 3) differed from his explanation last week, when the President said that he walked out of talks with Mr Kim because the North Korean leader's request for sanctions relief was unacceptable.

It remains unclear whether the Cohen hearing affected Mr Trump's thinking or Mr Kim's leverage. The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment on how the hearing contributed to the failure to reach an agreement.

Last Wednesday, Cohen testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee about Mr Trump's misdeeds, while the President was in Vietnam to negotiate with Mr Kim.

 
 

When asked about Cohen's testimony at a press conference last Thursday in Hanoi after Mr Trump abruptly decided to end the summit with Mr Kim early, the President called the allegations incorrect and criticised the decision to have the hearing while he was away.

"I tried to watch as much as I could," Mr Trump said. "I wasn't able to watch too much because I've been a little bit busy, but I think having a fake hearing like that and having it in the middle of this very important summit is really a terrible thing."