Trump administration officials and members of Congress addressed some of the nation's hottest political issues on the Sunday morning shows this week, talking about the Trump administration's plan to denuclearize North Korea, the White House's strategy to nominate a new Supreme Court justice, and calls to abolish US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
North Korean denuclearization
- On CBS's "Face the Nation," White House national security adviser John Bolton said North Korea's nuclear arsenal could be dismantled in a year if Pyongyang cooperates, adding that the program would require "full disclosure of all [of North Korea's] chemical and biological, nuclear programs, ballistic missile sites." He also disclosed that the plan has not been put into action yet.
- Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins on CNN's "State of the Union" reacted to a Washington Post report that North Korea is working on concealing nuclear weapons: "This is a very troubling report. There's no doubt about it. And North Korea has a long history of cheating on agreements that it's made with previous administrations. ... But there's no doubt that, in order to achieve that goal, we need verifiable, unimpeded, reliable inspections. And without those inspections, we can have no guarantee that North Korea is not cheating once again."
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that if the Post report was true "nobody should be surprised." He added that if officials in Pyongyang "play Trump like they've played everybody else, they're going to regret it."
Supreme Court vacancy
After Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced last week that he would retire soon, the Trump administration signaled an eagerness to get a nominee confirmed to the court before the upcoming midterm elections.
- Collins also told "State of the Union" that she is not comfortable with President Donald Trump's list of 25 potential Supreme Court nominees. "Now, some of the people on the list, I have not vetted at all at this point. One of them, I voted against years ago. And I would have to do a great deal more work on many of them."
- Graham on "Meet the Press" called Trump's list of 25 judges "highly qualified. He challenged concerns that a new Supreme Court justice appointed by Trump would lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. "You don't overturn precedent unless there's a good reason," he said. He also said he'd like a justice who is "conservative, not crazy."
- Both Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois on "State of the Union" and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota on ABC's "This Week" agreed that the nomination should be delayed until after midterm elections in four months.
- One concern for some senators, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, said, is being edged out by voting against the Supreme Court nominee. She told "Meet the Press": "My colleagues on both sides of the aisle know that this vote could be one of the key votes of their entire career. ... If they vote for somebody who's going to change precedent, it could be a career-ending move."
- Some Democrats, including Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, say the clearance of the judicial short list through the Federalist Society precludes them from Democratic support. Durbin told "Fox News Sunday" that the Federalist Society is "looking for someone on the court who will make sure that they rule that the Affordable Care Act's protection of those with pre-existing conditions is unconstitutional." Blumenthal said on "Face the Nation" that the organizations doing the vetting made it a condition that the nominee "commit to rolling back protections for health insurance."
Calls to abolish ICE
- Duckworth, on "State of the Union," relayed that she does not support calls from some Democrats to abolish ICE: "If you abolish ICE as it is, as an executive agency, it reflects the policies of the White House, of the President. You abolish ICE now, you still have the President with the same failed policies. Whatever you replace it with is just going to still reflect what this President wants to do."
- Klobuchar on "This Week" expressed similar sentiments: "I think what has to change are the policies, and the people that are making these policies are making horrendous decisions like separating kids from their parents. We are always going to need immigration enforcement."
- Blumenthal on CBS said abolishing the agency "will accomplish nothing unless we change the Trump policies."