News & Politics

Trump Doesn't Want to Prep for the North Korea Summit: Senior Administration Official

“He doesn’t think he needs to" prepare, a senior administration official told Time in a new report.

Photo Credit: Official White House Photos by D. Myles Cullen

President Donald Trump doesn't think he needs to do much prep work for his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to a new report from Time magazine citing an anonymous senior official. 

The official reportedly told the magazine that Trump doesn't think he needs to prepare, despite the immense complexity such negotiations will inevitably entail and the vast stakes in play. Some aides are reportedly working to plan time in the president's schedule for dealing with Kim, but there's been no coherent strategy for getting Trump ready to face the challenge.

Though the report only relies on one source, another unnamed official provided a comment that is almost as damning. This person said “there is a robust, whole-of-government effort underway to prepare for President Trump’s upcoming meeting" and declined to go into any further detail. Such a statement, while somewhat encouraging, doesn't challenge the most worrying piece of the article: Trump himself is apparently unwilling to do the necessary work ahead of the summit.

But even during the campaign, Trump portrayed himself as uniquely able to handle to country's problems despite having no experience in government. His overconfidence then is reflected in the new Time report. Other reports have found that Trump is unable or uninterested in looking at detailed policy briefs or memos, forcing staffers to come up with tricks and tactics to draw his attention to important details. Before becoming president, he said he had no time to read.

This week, multiple developments have indicated that the upcoming summit may be a bigger challenge that the White House has been preparing for. The North Koreans abruptly pulled out of meetings with South Korea, threatened to do the same with the U.S. summit in Singapore and rejected the possibility of unilateral denuclearization. CNN reported that the developments caught the White House by surprise.

All of which really should make the president think these negotiations aren't really the kind of thing he can cram for last minute.

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.