WEATHER AUTHORITY : Flash Flood Watch View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trump hinting at release of detained Americans alarms former diplomats

President Donald Trump has actively cultivated an air of suspense around his upcoming summit with North Korean leader...

Posted: May 8, 2018 10:47 AM
Updated: May 8, 2018 10:47 AM

President Donald Trump has actively cultivated an air of suspense around his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but his decision last week to add another dose of reality-TV drama by teasing the release of three Americans currently being detained by the regime is raising concerns among former US diplomats.

Trump and his allies outside the government sought to fan heightened expectations surrounding the possibility of their release last week -- casting the potential development as evidence of the President's negotiating prowess ahead of a sit-down with Kim.

But experts and even some administration aides are worried the celebration may be premature and could send the wrong signals to Pyongyang or even jeopardize the prisoner's release.

"It doesn't take an expert to recognize that negotiations about detained US citizens can be extremely delicate," Mintaro Oba, a former Korea desk officer at the State Department under Obama, told CNN on Monday.

"Raising expectations in public is a dangerous game, one that can signal to the other country that you now have a lot more to lose if the deal falls through," he said.

Trump and Rudy Giuliani, a member of Trump's legal team but not himself an employee of the government, both seemed to get out ahead of the White House and the State Department by hinting an announcement could be coming soon.

Trump tweeted about the Americans last Wednesday evening with instructions to "stay tuned."

And Giuliani said Saturday that "there is a good chance" that three Americans detained in North Korea "will be released over the next several days," despite saying Thursday that the release would take place that day.

An official with knowledge of the ongoing negotiations told CNN the release of the detained Americans is "imminent" following months of talks.

But inside the White House and State Department, however, officials were still working to verify reports the three Americans had been moved from labor camps to a hotel in Pyongyang. The families of the prisoners, meanwhile, said they had received no new information about their loved ones.

Some members of the administration were frustrated as reports of the American detainees' release seemed to get ahead of official US pronouncements -- fueled partly by the President's own lawyer.

"This isn't how we should be doing this," sighed one US official after Giuliani's appearance on Fox. The official said the administration had hoped any announcement about the Americans' release would come from the President himself.

Bill Richardson, the former US energy secretary, ambassador and repeat US envoy to North Korea, told CNN on Monday that these "negotiations are best conducted quietly, privately" but while their comments were premature, Trump and Giuliani likely did not not jeopardize the release of the three Americans.

"North Korea wants to release them" but also wants to "control the message and logistics of the release," Richardson said.

"I would urge the President and Rudy to be cautious and not say anything -- let diplomacy run its course," he added.

Joseph Yun, who until March was the administration's top diplomat working on North Korea issues, said last week it was "worrisome" that Trump's allies would tout a release before it's complete.

"We really shouldn't be talking about their release, nobody should be talking about their release, until it happens because any kind of real speculation sends the wrong signals and could jeopardize them," said Yun, who is now a CNN global affairs analyst.

Yun traveled to Pyongyang last June to negotiate the Americans' release, but was only successful in securing the handover of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died days after his return to the United States.

According to Oba, Trump and Giuliani may have also missed an opportunity to secure a political victory by prematurely speaking out.

"What Trump and Giuliani also doesn't make much sense politically," Oba said.

"Trump would have benefited a lot more if he had managed expectations until the summit, and then unveiled the release of US detainees as a "win" for himself," he added.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 294091

Reported Deaths: 6669
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19626230
Hinds18745386
Harrison16618278
Rankin12662264
Jackson12509224
Lee9679160
Madison9432199
Jones7928146
Forrest7184136
Lauderdale6813226
Lowndes6017137
Lamar586880
Lafayette5721113
Washington5205130
Bolivar4604122
Oktibbeha440693
Panola428893
Pearl River4144129
Warren4124113
Pontotoc408469
Marshall401892
Monroe3982126
Union394974
Neshoba3782168
Lincoln3508100
Hancock343874
Leflore3367118
Sunflower317686
Tate301774
Pike299795
Scott293170
Alcorn291261
Itawamba289374
Yazoo287962
Coahoma277367
Tippah276765
Copiah276357
Simpson273878
Prentiss269558
Leake252271
Wayne252241
Marion251978
Covington248478
Grenada246677
Adams233877
George231245
Newton227552
Winston221475
Jasper212945
Tishomingo211965
Attala206269
Chickasaw200951
Holmes181770
Clay178550
Stone171929
Tallahatchie170439
Clarke169171
Calhoun157528
Smith152531
Yalobusha143737
Greene127433
Walthall123640
Noxubee122829
Montgomery121838
Perry121534
Lawrence119621
Carroll118124
Amite111232
Webster110230
Jefferson Davis101531
Tunica98923
Claiborne98129
Benton93324
Humphreys92527
Kemper89723
Quitman77114
Franklin75919
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62326
Jefferson62027
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 492683

Reported Deaths: 9930
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson709061374
Mobile36044725
Madison32355455
Tuscaloosa24093410
Montgomery22536501
Shelby21892215
Baldwin19714283
Lee14950153
Morgan13641251
Calhoun13232286
Etowah13163319
Marshall11250209
Houston10073261
Elmore9371185
Limestone9353134
Cullman8891181
St. Clair8813223
Lauderdale8594211
DeKalb8441175
Talladega7511163
Walker6514255
Jackson6487102
Autauga624891
Blount6095127
Colbert6000118
Coffee5238102
Dale4637107
Russell403930
Franklin398977
Covington3953106
Chilton3868100
Escambia377272
Tallapoosa3581142
Clarke343650
Chambers3406110
Dallas3401141
Pike293272
Lawrence282684
Marion281695
Winston246567
Bibb244960
Geneva239070
Marengo235355
Pickens224454
Barbour211351
Hale209468
Fayette200256
Butler195666
Henry182241
Cherokee176838
Monroe166139
Randolph163640
Washington156435
Crenshaw144354
Clay143854
Macon141743
Cleburne137339
Lamar132533
Lowndes130851
Wilcox121625
Bullock116736
Conecuh106724
Perry105527
Sumter98331
Coosa88823
Greene87532
Choctaw55023
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 60°
Columbus
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 59°
Oxford
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 52°
Starkville
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 55°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather