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Durbin ‘nervous’ about Trump’s impending meeting with Kim Jong Un

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin holds a news conference at Boeing's St. Louis headquarters in Berkeley.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin holds a news conference at Boeing's headquarters in Berkeley.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says that President Donald Trump’s penchant for making provocative comments on social media, and into microphones, makes him “nervous” about a meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

The Illinois Democrat also is worried about Trump’s possible meeting at the White House with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which could occur in the “not so distant future.”

Trump is slated to meet with Kim Jong Un at the end of May. It’s the first meeting between the two heads of state amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday at Boeing’s offices in Berkeley, Durbin questioned whether the GOP chief executive had the temperament to go into the high-stakes meeting.  

“This president has not been at a high-level, life or death nuclear war negotiation, ever. Very few people on Earth have,” Durbin said. “We know from his tweets and from his temperament, we’re never quite sure what he’s going to say — and whether he’s going to believe or say it tomorrow.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said this week that Trump and Putin discussed a “bilateral meeting” sometime in the “not so distant future.” This wouldn’t be the first meeting between the two world leaders, but Durbin said his concerns about Trump’s temperament extend to that potential summit as well.

“Now he’s going to be seated in a room, at least once, maybe twice, with leaders with the capacity to start or stop a nuclear war,” Durbin said. “I can’t think of more serious assignment and I hope that the president is ready for it.”

Slams Trump on DACA

Durbin also reacted harshly to Trump’s statements that a plan to prevent immigrants who came to America illegally as children from being deported is “dead.”

Trump tweeted on Monday that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is “dead because the Democrats didn’t care or act, and now everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon.” Durbin has been sponsoring some form of DACA since the early 2000s.

“The president’s statements about DACA and our border security reflect either willful ignorance or complete misrepresentation of fact,” Durbin said. “In order to qualify for DACA protection, you must have been in the United States in 2007. So anybody driving up in a caravan to our border now is 11 years off DACA eligibility. It isn’t part of the bill. And I know something about this bill, because I wrote it.”

Durbin was alluding to another Twitter comment where the president stated: “These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!”

“And so when the president starts throwing DACA in the conversation, I’m afraid he’s being swept away by Sean Hannity and Stephen Miller and Ann Coulter’s threats,” Durbin said. “And he’s not in the world of reality.”

Praises Boeing investment

Durbin was at Boeing to discuss how the fiscal year 2019 budget includes purchase of 110 F/A-18 Super Hornets. He said that order will provide stability to a major employer in both Illinois and Missouri.

“It’s going to mean some longevity,” Durbin said. “It means they’ll have good paying jobs for a longer period of time. But from the nation’s point of view, it means that we are protecting our greatest asset — the men and women who come to work here and are ready to build the best defense in the world.”

Durbin praised his Democratic colleague, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and Missouri Sens. Roy Blunt, a Republican, and Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, for advocating for Boeing.

“And now we are giving to the Department of Defense an extraordinary increase in spending opportunities — some $75 billion more this year over last year and to do it even better next year,” said Durbin, who the vice chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “What’s going to happen to it? It will be greater investments in things we’ve put off for a long time.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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