Business for Breakfast, Cory Gardner, June 12, 2018

Station:    KDMT, 1490 am

Show:       Business for Breakfast

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:        June 12, 2018

Topics:     Pro

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HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER: [00:00:00] To talk about the latest developments out of North Korea and the Singapore summit — and more — I’m pleased to welcome back to the show U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado. Senator, welcome back to the program. Always great to have you!

UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER: [00:00:14] Good morning Jimmy. Thanks for having me.

SENGENBERGER: [00:00:15] So, what is your overall takeaway from what we learned yesterday — or last night — in this meeting with Kim Jong-un and President Trump?

GARDNER: [00:00:25] Well, I think it shows that cautious optimism was warranted, that the meeting seems to have hit kind of where I thought it would. There was an agreement at least — a very thin agreement — to some kind of denuclearization that Kim reiterated his support for it. This is the first time a U.S. president and the leader of North Korea have had that conversation in person. He didn’t back away from it. And so, that’s a good sign. Now, we’ve got to have a lot more detail. We’re going to have to have a lot more information about this as it plays out. But at this point, I think it shows that cautious optimism was that was the right approach.

SENGENBERGER: [00:01:01] You are, of course, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and often times have — at least, it’s been reported — had the ear of President Trump when it comes to North Korea issues. I’m curious, did you talk with the President before this summit and give any thoughts to him?

GARDNER: [00:01:18] I have. I’ve talked to the President numerous times, including just a few days ago before he left for Singapore. [I] spoke this morning with a staffer who is in Singapore from the National Security Council to make sure I get an accurate — receive an accurate readout of both the meeting — internal meeting — as well as the press stand up after the summit. So, I feel like I have a good — a good grasp on what took place there, but certainly need more information as the days come forward.

SENGENBERGER: [00:01:50] Now, one of the questions that’s being asked is, “How does this agreement differ from anything in the past that we had under previous presidential administrations?” How would you answer that?

GARDNER: [00:02:00] Well, the big difference, of course, is was a commitment made to the President of the United States by the leader of North Korea in person. Now, the substance of the agreements is basically the same promises that have been made before. These — the agreement that was signed in Singapore was a little bit thin obviously. It didn’t lay out what denuclearization means. It did incorporate by reference the Panmunjom declaration of April this year, which incorporates — by reference — previous agreements that they have made to denuclearization. So, you know, that sort of “I promise, I promise, I promise” was still in there. So, time will tell whether or not this is going to work out differently. You know that’s why I was pleased that the sanctions will continue. I think that’s critically important. And I think it’s important to know that — I think — President Trump has characterized everything as good faith efforts to make those steps toward denuclearization. That’s important.

SENGENBERGER: [00:02:58] One of the things that President Trump agreed to was to stop — for the time being, at least — what he calls “the War Games” that the United States engages in with South Korea. Do you think that was a smart move?

GARDNER: [00:03:12] You know, look, there is going to be a lot of people talking about — and analyzing — whether this is a good move or a bad move. Bottom line is this he talked about war games. That probably means bomber overflights. Does that mean all exercises? Doubtful. Does it mean that we stop working with South Korea? No. And does that mean — and did the President qualify it with good faith efforts and progress toward denuclearization? Yes he did. So, you know, I think there’s room to move on this, as long as we have those good faith efforts and progress being made toward denuclearization. The President didn’t say we’re going to stop the exercises or joint training. He didn’t say that. But again, [these are] all details that we’re going to have to get more of.

SENGENBERGER: [00:03:59] When it comes to the agreement, Senator Gardner, one of the things that the President managed to secure last minute was a commitment from Kim Jong-un to help with recovering POW and MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified. What did you make of that accomplishment?

GARDNER: [00:04:17] You know, I think that’s something that has been very important to a number of people and our veterans, and obviously, what it means for Japan and some of the concerns that they have expressed. We don’t know those full details, yet. But it’s important that we have that. Hopefully, it can be executed properly.

SENGENBERGER: [00:04:36] In terms of the assurances that North Korea follows through with the commitments they’ve made as more discussions take place between the White House and Pyongyang, what do you think the administration should be focusing on, in terms of those assurances?

GARDNER: [00:04:53] You know, I think, this agreement just didn’t have the detail that we need yet. And I think that’s — so, assurances and kind of how we’re going to reach them, how we’re going to accomplish denuclearization a lot of this is just going to depend on how we get the details out. So, to be able to fully analyze this meeting, I think, is a little bit impossible because of the lack of, sort of the thin nature of this agreement.

SENGENBERGER: [00:05:20] Right. And in regards to the future, moving forward, the JCPOA — that is the Iran deal — was negotiated by President Obama, former President Obama. It did not go through Congress for — as a treaty for authorization, like a treaty. Do you think that a treaty is what should be the objective here for the Trump administration with North Korea?

GARDNER: [00:05:44] Well, I think, you know, the Iran deal — to be clear — was just a bad deal. I mean, that was a very bad deal that allowed Iran to continue with its nuclear program. They’d be able to have a nuclear weapon in eight years or so under the agreement. So, that was a bad deal. Now, I fully support further congressional engagement. I always think that doing it with Congress’s blessing makes a stronger agreement. If it’s a treaty, if it fits those definitions of a treaty, we should do that. But we’re a long ways away from that, right now. I think we’re [at the] very initial steps of this denuclearization, and that’s where we need to get more information on. But, you know, if a treaty is the right direction I would support that. We just — we’re just a long ways away from that.

SENGENBERGER: [00:06:32] And so, in regards to these future conversations, Senator Gardner, that it looks like the White House will be having do you think it’s smart for the President to say, “Let’s have a conversation, potentially at the White House,” or to say that he might go to Pyongyang and continue conversations in that way? Or should we be looking more at neutral territory like a Singapore or something?

GARDNER: [00:06:51] Well, look, I don’t know how many more meetings the President and Kim Jong-un are going to have. Personally, I think a lot of this is going to be done by Sun Kim, our Philippine ambassador right now, who was Special Envoy to North Korea before taking the ambassadorship. A lot of these negotiations will take place with Secretary Pompeo and others. So, I think that’s a question that can be asked at some point. I don’t think it’s appropriate yet for, you know, full blown meetings at the White House and rolling out the red carpet. But I don’t know that those kind of face to face summits are going to be what we see directly coming out of this summit.

SENGENBERGER: [00:07:25] Final question on this topic, Senator Cory Gardner, and that is in regards to the groundwork that was laid. I mean, clearly this wasn’t a “let’s show up, let’s meet, let’s hash it all out then and come out with this agreement.” It looks like Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State and others in the administration really worked hard to get things going in the last few months.

GARDNER: [00:07:45] Well they have. I mean, this is an administration that has put in place a new doctrine, abandoning the failed Strategic Patience doctrine, put into place this maximum pressure doctrine that has appeared to have worked. We know that the regime elites in Pyongyang were feeling the economic pressure like they’ve never felt before. And you know, this is –going forward — the hard work of the diplomats will hopefully bear out a further detailed agreement of what denuclearization means. But yeah, there’s no doubt that Mike Pompeo and others were doing a lot of work, laying the groundwork, before.

SENGENBERGER: [00:08:22] Finally, on the topic of trade there was another big diplomatic event this past weekend: the G-7 summit. It seems like there is some contention between the United States and Canada, as well as the United States and European allies. Where do you assess things in that regard vis a vis the ongoing — what appears to — be trade disputes?

GARDNER: [00:08:43] Well, you know, I don’t support a tariff approach. I think it hurts the very people you’re trying to help. I would much rather get like-minded allies together, supporting the same common policy, to go after bad actors. The President is right to target China. The President is right, in that they have not treated fairly. And so, I think the more appropriate thing would be to gather our allies — our good trade partners around the globe — and use that to force China into better behavior. So, I hope that that’s something that the United States will will pursue and shift our policy to, as far as the G-7. But, look, our allies are important, and we can’t abandon our allies, or we can’t create friction between them that is irresistible. Now, I don’t think that’s what is happening right now. So, we’ve got to make sure that we maintain good relationships with our allies, even when there’s tough talk that needs to be held.

SENGENBERGER: [00:09:35] Senator Cory Gardner, our guest. Always a pleasure. Never enough time. Thanks for joining us this morning on Business for Breakfast.

GARDNER: [00:09:42] Jimmy, thanks for having me. Thanks.

SENGENBERGER: [00:09:44] All right. [We were] Hearing from Cory Gardner, again, senator from Colorado — the Republican senator from this great state. Always interesting to get his take on what’s going on in the world of foreign affairs. Once again, he is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and has the ear of President Trump on North Korean issues. As he acknowledged, he’s had some conversation — including a few days ago — directly with President Trump. Wisely, I think, he also just said that he doesn’t support the tariff approach and thinks we really need to be fostering strong relationships with our allies. I’m just going to pull from that, and say that perhaps he’d agree with me that we shouldn’t be throwing our allies under the bus. I’m not going to put words in Senator Gardner’s mouth, but it’s possible that he may agree with a similar sort of sentiment, or that at the very least we need to be a bit more strategic in how we handle our allies, vis a vis the trade relationships.