As it happenedended1562017871

Trump news: President 'demanding tanks on DC streets for July Fourth', amid growing questions over Ivanka role

Follow the latest updates from Washington, as it happened

Clark Mindock
New York
,Joe Sommerlad
Monday 01 July 2019 09:48 EDT
Trump becomes first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea at meeting with Kim Jong-un

Donald Trump is returning to Washington to plan for the Fourth of July after his four-day trip to Asia for the G20, which culminated in his historic crossing of the Demilitarised Zone between North Korea and South Korea at the invitation of dictator Kim Jong-un.

In doing so, Mr Trump became the first US president to step over the dividing line between the enemy states but his detractors have been quick to denounce the gesture as amounting to little more than a “photo opportunity” serving to legitimise a rogue nuclear power notorious for oppressing its people.

His daughter Ivanka has also been the victim of ridicule, cruelly mocked online for her unnecessary presence in Japan and Korea with the hashtag #unwantedivanka trending on Twitter. “Being someone’s daughter actually isn't a career qualification,” commented Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Speaking of Ms Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat took a trip to migrant detention centres on Monday, where she described horrid conditions for women.

During the first stop on her voyage, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said that US Customs and Border Protection officials were physically and sexually intimidating towards her, and that migrants in the facility had been told to drink water from the toilets.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez was expected to head over to the facility in Clint, Texas, where children have been held and reportedly denied soap and toothpaste.

Please allow a moment for our liveblog to load


Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration.

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 09:38

Donald Trump is returning to Washington after his four-day trip to Asia for the G20, which culminated in his historic crossing of the Demilitarised Zone between North Korea and South Korea at the invitation of dictator Kim Jong-un.

In doing so, Mr Trump became the first US president to step over the dividing line between the enemy states but his detractors have been quick to denounce the gesture as amounting to little more than a “photo opportunity” and a gesture that legitimises a rogue nuclear power that oppresses its people.

With wide grins and a handshake, Trump and Kim had greed to revive talks on denuclearisation, with Trump was pressing his bid for what he hopes will prove a legacy-defining deal.

What was intended to be an impromptu exchange of pleasantries turned into a 50-minute meeting, another historic first in the yearlong rapprochement between the two technically warring nations. It marked a return to face-to-face contact between the leaders after talks broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February. Significant doubts remain, though, about the future of the negotiations and the North's willingness to give up its stockpile of nuclear weapons . 

The border encounter was a made-for television moment. The men strode toward one another from opposite sides of the Joint Security Area and shook hands over the raised patch of concrete at the Military Demarcation Line as cameras clicked and photographers jostled to capture the scene. 

After asking if Kim wanted him to cross, Trump took 10 steps into the North with Kim at his side, then escorted Kim back to the South for talks at Freedom House, where they agreed to revive the stalled negotiations. 

The spectacle marked the latest milestone in two years of roller-coaster diplomacy between the two nations. Personal taunts of "Little Rocket Man" (by Trump) and "mentally deranged US dotard" (by Kim) and threats to destroy one other have given way to on-again, off-again talks, professions of love and flowery letters. 

"I was proud to step over the line," Trump told Kim as they met in on the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom. "It is a great day for the world." 

Kim hailed the moment, saying of Trump, "I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future." Kim added that he was "surprised" when Trump issued an unorthodox meeting invitation by tweet on Saturday. 

As he left South Korea on his flight to Washington, Trump tweeted that he had "a wonderful meeting" with Kim. "Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!" 

Before boarding Air Force One, Trump was keen to ensure the significance of the moment did not go understated, making typically grandiose claims for his achievement:

Substantive talks between the countries had largely broken down after the last Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi, which ended early when the leaders hit an impasse. 

The North has balked at Trump's insistence that it give up its weapons before it sees relief from crushing international sanctions. The US has said the North must submit to "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" before sanctions are lifted. 

As he announced the resumptions of talks, Trump told reporters "we're not looking for speed. We're looking to get it right." 

He added that economic sanctions on the North would remain. But he seemed to move off the administration's previous rejection of scaling back sanctions in return for piecemeal North Korean concessions, saying, "At some point during the negotiation things can happen." 

Peering into North Korea from atop Observation Post Ouellette, Trump told reporters before he greeted Kim that there had been "tremendous" improvement since his first meeting with the North's leader in Singapore last year. 

Trump claimed the situation used to be marked by "tremendous danger" but "after our first summit, all of the danger went away." 

But the North has yet to provide an accounting of its nuclear stockpile, let alone begin the process of dismantling its arsenal. 

Andrew Buncombe and Adam Forrest have more on yesterday's spectacle.

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 09:44

Before Sunday's big moment on the Korean Peninsula, Trump had spent Friday and Saturday at the G20 summit of world leaders in Osaka, Japan, meeting with world leaders including Russian president Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping of China.

Naturally, he had some fairly big claims to make:

The presence of his daughter Ivanka at the summit was the source of much ridicule, not least after this excruciating clip of her trying and failing to interject in a conversation between Theresa May, French president Emmanuel Macron and Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund went viral.

The reaction on the faces of world leaders in this press shot, particularly Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and his Italian counterpart Guiseppe Conte, said it all.

Among the most withering responses came from Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "Being someone’s daughter actually isn't a career qualification," she said.

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 10:04

Ivanka was also present at her father's meeting with Kim Jong-un, telling a reporter afterwards the experience was "surreal".

On Monday morning, the hashtag #unwantedivanka was trending on Twitter, with the president's daughter photoshopphed into seismic moments in history to superb effect.

Here's more on that North Korean TV coverage of Freedom House from Tim Wyatt.

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 10:15

Another person who had a rough time of it at the hands of the media - quite literally so, in this case - was new White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who found herself bruised in a scrum with reporters at the DMZ in Panmunjom.

Here's Maya Oppenheim's report.

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 10:30

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson was also in South Korea to cover the trip and ended up tying himself in knots attempting to downplay Pyongyang's atrocious human rights record.

"It’s a disgusting place obviously, so there’s no defending it. On the other hand, you know you’ve got to be honest about what it means to lead a country; it means killing people," he told his parent network in a phone call home.

Here's more from Zamira Rahim.

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 10:45

This was Trump's own assessment of his time in Asia.

Others took a more questioning view of his performance, in which he invited a tyrant into the international fold, criticised two former US presidents, failed to stand up to Vladimir Putin on election hacking and dodged a question on Saudi Arabia's role in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by praising the country's monarchy.

Here's Adam Forrest again on the president's bond with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 11:00

Returning home, Trump has plenty of unresolved issues waiting for him that are unlikely to go away any time soon.

From protests over migrant detention centres...

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 11:15

...To judges blocking the construction of his prized "big, beautiful" US-Mexico border wall.

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 11:30

In Washington, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris has surged to third in a new Morning Consult poll after her impressive performance in the second party debate in Florida last week, where she took on front-runner Joe Biden in no uncertain terms.

She has since raised more than $2m (£1.6m) for her campaign in 24 hours through the sale of T-shirts featuring an old photograph of herself as a schoolgirl with the slogan "That little girl was me" - a reference to her line of attack during the debate over her experience of being "bussed" to a formerly segregated school in Berkeley, California, in the 1970s as a means of addressing its racial imbalance.

Here she is partying at San Francisco Pride over the weekend, celebrating as her popularity and profile continues to grow:

But Harris has also been the victim of a new "birther" conspiracy theory - like that which sought to discredit the 44th president Barack Obama - which was spread online by alt-right activist Ali Alexander and retweeted by the president's eldest son Don Jr and questions whether she is an authentic "American black".

Harris is of Jamaican and Indian descent but was born and raised in California.

"It won't work," says her campaign, while fellow 2020 contender Julian Castro called out Don Jr as a "coward" over the retweet.

TV presenter Meghan McCain, daughter of late Republican presidential candidate and Trump foe John McCain, likewise called the attack "disgusting and unquestionably racist".

Joe Sommerlad1 July 2019 11:45

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in