WASHINGTON — Many Democrats have been reluctant to praise the Trump administration for securing the release of three Americans who had been held captive in North Korea.
“I’m very happy that the prisoners have been freed,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at her weekly news conference on Thursday. “I don’t approve of the comments that the president is saying about Kim Jong Un is such an excellent person. He is one of the most brutal human rights violators in the world. But of course we’re thrilled that the prisoners have been freed.”
“Their release should not be exalted; it should be expected,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in floor remarks on Thursday.
TMN approached several lawmakers on Thursday.
Prospective 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) walked away when asked about the hostage release.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) praised the administration.
“Congratulations, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo,” Whitehouse said.
When pressed as to whether the senator believes the administration deserves credit for the release, Whitehouse said: “I do.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Democrats are reluctant to praise the administration for the hostage release because many are still upset about Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election.
“There are some people that are just still so angry about the outcome of the election they can’t seem to get over it,” Cornyn said.
Richard Vatz, a professor of political persuasion at Towson University in Maryland, said Democrats believe praise for the administration would constitute a betrayal of the party’s principles.
“The disinclination for anti-Trump politicians and anti-Trump media to give President Trump credit for anything can be attributed, I think, to their effort not to betray “the Resistance,”‘ Vatz said. “This is short-sighted rhetorically, as it would add to their credibility to be able to compliment him when he accomplishes something material.”
Early Thursday morning, President Donald Trump and Pompeo greeted the former prisoners as they arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C. Pompeo secured their release earlier this week while in North Korea for pre-summit discussions and they had departed the country on Wednesday.
Trump told reporters at Andrews: “We want to thank Kim Jong Un. We very much appreciate that he allowed them to go before the meeting. He was nice in letting them go before the meeting.”
The North Korean regime is considered one of the most oppressive governments in the world. Millions of its citizens are held captive in prison camps that resemble Soviet gulags.
The regime has embarked upon an aggressive nuclear weapons program and has made threats against the U.S. and its allies. However, two weeks ago, when the summit was agreed to, Kim said North Korea would suspend the program and halt missile tests.
In a late Thursday morning tweet, Trump announced that the summit will take place on June 12 in Singapore.