In opting for a narrow rather than a broad set of charges, Democrats sought to blunt Republican criticism that the impeachment proceeding against Trump is a reckless attempt to undo a democratically elected president, according to some experts

As they conducted a two-month-long impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Donald Trump, Democrats considered a range of charges against him, including articles stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and violations of the emoluments clause to the U.S. Constitution.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In the end, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democratic leaders settled on just two charges: abuse of office and obstruction of justice.

In opting for a narrow rather than a broad set of charges, Democrats sought to blunt Republican criticism that the impeachment proceeding against Trump is an illegitimate attempt to undo a democratically elected president, according to some experts.

Kim Wehle, a former associate independent counsel in the Whitewater impeachment investigation against former President Bill Clinton, said the Democrats’ decision is a smart play, if only to make it more difficult for Republicans to be totally dismissive of the historic action.

“If it had been a laundry list of articles of impeachment, the Republicans could say, The Democrats are out of control. This is a witch hunt, or this is overreaching.’ And they can hide behind that rhetoric to basically walk away from impeaching this president,” said Wehle, a law professor at the University of Baltimore.

From left, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Donald Trump.
From left, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Donald Trump.

 

Articles of impeachment

Articles of impeachment are similar to criminal charges. The two articles of impeachment revealed on Tuesday are focused on Ukraine and are related to Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, and a discredited theory about Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and Trump’s subsequent attempt to impede a congressional inquiry.

Though not a criminal offense, abuse of power is a long-running theme in U.S. presidential impeachments, according to Louis Michael Seidman, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University. Obstruction of Congress is less common; Richard Nixon faced a similar charge of contempt of Congress.

Article 1

The first article accuses Trump of using the power of his office to solicit Ukrainian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.  It alleges that the president asked Ukraine to conduct investigations that would “benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States presidential election to his advantage.”

It says that Trump “sought to pressure” Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting between Trump and the president of Ukraine on the investigations.

Throughout the impeachment inquiry, Democrats sought to prove that Trump pushed for the investigations in exchange for military aid and an Oval Office meeting with Ukraine’s president.  But establishing an explicit quid pro quo proved more challenging than they’d anticipated. That may explain why the resolution plays down a quid pro quo in making its case.

Article 2  

The second article is centered on Trump’s effort to impede the congressional impeachment inquiry. After Democrats announced the investigation in late September, Trump ordered the White House and executive branch agencies not to cooperate with the inquiry.

“In the history of the Republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate high crimes and misdemeanors,” the resolution states.

 

Former special counsel Robert Mueller, checks pages in the report as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee
Former special counsel Robert Mueller, checks pages in the report as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, July 24, 2019 in Washington.

Narrow set of charges

In recent weeks, House Democrats seemed divided over the scope of a possible Trump impeachment. Many advocated including a charge of obstruction of justice related to Trump’s alleged effort to interfere with the Mueller probe, a lengthy investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome. That investigation found no evidence of collusion, but cited nearly a dozen instances of possible obstruction.

Others wanted charges of bribery, extortion and campaign finance violations included in the articles of impeachment.

In the end, however, the Democrats opted for a straight-forward case they felt was easy to prove. The decision to drop the extraneous charges won praise from an unlikely critic: Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who was invited by Republicans to testify in the House Judiciary Committee last week.

“While my fellow witnesses made good-faith arguments for those articles, my testimony primarily focused on the legal and constitutional flaws in claiming those criminal acts,” Turley wrote on his personal blog.

George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley gives an opening statement as he testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Rush to judgment

The impeachment proceeding is set to barrel ahead. On Thursday, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the articles, followed by a vote by the full House next week. Should the House approve one or both articles of impeachment, Trump would become only the third U.S. president in history to be so charged. He then would face a trial in the Senate early next year.

The Democratic push has raised charges that they’re rushing to judgment. Turley told lawmakers last week that while Trump could be impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the Democrats have not fully developed their case.

“The problem is that the House has not bothered to subpoena the key witnesses who would have such direct knowledge,” Turley testified.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 3, 2019.

But Democrats say they don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of subpoenas. Adam Schiff, House Intelligence Committee chairman, noted that it took a federal court eight months to rule in favor of a congressional subpoena for former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify.

Even if takes another eight months to get a second court order, Schiff said, Trump administration officials could still claim executive privilege over certain documents sought by Congress.

“The argument, Why don’t you just wait?’ amounts to this: Why don’t you just let him cheat in just one more election? Why not let him cheat one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time,” Schiff said Tuesday.

Democrats also appear intent on getting impeachment out of the way ahead of the November 2020 election, in part to prevent Democratic senators running for president to be pinned down in Washington during a prolonged impeachment trial.

“But I think the danger is that it could be done so soon that it will be in the rearview mirror (for) most people, most voters, when they actually go to the polls in November,” Wehle said.

Republicans insist Trump has done nothing wrong. They say the president simply asked Ukraine to root out corruption, and that no evidence of a quid pro quo has emerged.

They also defend Trump’s right to bar members of his administration from cooperating with the impeachment inquiry on the grounds of executive privilege.

Ultimately, though, it matters little how strong the impeachment case is. Impeachment is a quasi-judicial and political process. And with Republicans controlling the Senate, it is highly unlikely that Trump will be convicted and removed from office.


Governments around the world must allow the voices of human rights advocates, including young people, to be heard, the U.N. secretary general said Tuesday. The remarks came as the world body marked the 71st anniversary of the United Nations’ World Human Rights Day. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi reports.


After a bomb exploded in a downtown Atlanta park midway through the 1996 Olympics, a security guard initially cast as a hero was recast as a villain virtually overnight. More than 20 years later, a movie to be released later this week, “Richard Jewell,” explores the roles played by law enforcement and the media in the guard’s ordeal.

Now the movie is drawing its own share of criticism.

Kevin Riley, the current editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is disputing the film’s depiction of the newspaper’s reporting and decision-making processes, especially the portrayal of reporter Kathy Scruggs, who the movie implies traded sex with an FBI agent for a tip on the story.

In an interview with The Associated Press, director Clint Eastwood dismissed the criticism of his movie, which is based on a 1997 Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner, by saying the paper likely is looking to “rationalize” its actions.

Jewell’s saga began on July 27, 1996, when he spotted an abandoned backpack during a concert in Centennial Olympic Park shortly before 1 a.m. and helped clear the area as federal agents determined it contained a bomb. The explosion about 20 minutes later killed 44-year-old Alice Hawthorne of Albany, Georgia, and injured 111 people, some of them seriously. A Turkish television cameraman died after suffering a heart attack while running to film the explosion’s aftermath.

Jewell, who likely helped prevent many more casualties, was initially hailed as a hero but a few days later was reported to be the focus of the FBI investigation, and the public quickly turned on him.

FILE – Photographers surround Richard Jewell prior to his testifying before a House Judiciary Crime subcommittee hearing, July 30, 1997, on the Olympic bombing in Atlanta.

The park reopened within days, the games continued and Jewell was publicly cleared three months later. But he grappled with the fallout for the rest of his life, and Atlanta lived with the fear and unease of a bomber still at large.

A new book, “The Suspect,” attempts to bring clarity to the aftermath of the bombing. Its authors were in the thick of it: Kent Alexander was the U.S. attorney in Atlanta when the bombing happened and Kevin Salwen led The Wall Street Journal’s southeastern section.

In the frantic days after the bombing, Scruggs confirmed with law enforcement sources that the FBI was focusing on Jewell. The paper published that information three days after the explosion and scores of reporters descended on the apartment complex where Jewell lived with his mother, leaving them feeling as if they were under siege for months.

Jewell had made clear his dream of working in law enforcement and was endlessly mocked as an overzealous but bumbling wannabe cop.

It’s easy to say in hindsight that the investigation focused too heavily on Jewell, Alexander said. But some of Jewell’s actions and tips from people who knew him raised serious questions, the former prosecutor said. There was also the memory of a police officer at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles who was celebrated for disarming a bomb until it emerged that he’d planted it.

Doubts about Jewell’s guilt surfaced quickly, especially once it became clear he couldn’t have made a 911 call reporting the bomb from a pay phone blocks away.

In late October 1996, Alexander took the unusual step of sending a letter to one of Jewell’s attorneys saying Jewell was not a target of the investigation.

“His name had been so badly muddied and tarnished that it just seemed like we should do something, so I did,” Alexander said.

That left authorities sifting through dozens of possible suspects — the actual bomber, anti-government extremist Eric Rudolph, not among them. Rudolph, who was behind two more bombs in Atlanta in early 1997 and another in Alabama in January 1998, was eventually captured in 2003 and pleaded guilty in 2005.

‘Voice of God’

The media frenzy surrounding Jewell drew backlash, and the Journal-Constitution was criticized for the “voice of God” style in its initial story, which carried no attribution and left the origin of the information unclear.

Ron Martz, who shared a byline with Scruggs on the scoop, said questions and rumors swirled in the wake of the horrific attack and he saw it as a public service to let people know where the investigation stood.

Scruggs had solid sources and the story had been through several editors, Martz said. Editors even had him take the highly unusual step of reading the entire story to an FBI spokesman to confirm that the information was correct and to make sure it wouldn’t jeopardize the investigation.

But Martz said he regrets not pushing for clearer attribution on the original story, which could have spared the paper much grief with the addition of just five words: “according to law enforcement sources.”

Once he was effectively cleared, Jewell’s lawyers filed libel suits against numerous news outlets. Most settled, but the Journal-Constitution didn’t. The legal battle continued for more than a decade, beyond Jewell’s death in 2007 at age 44. The courts ultimately ruled the newspaper’s stories weren’t libelous because they were substantially true when published.

Criticism of the newspaper, and particularly Scruggs, was devastating to her, Martz said.

“She felt very hurt by the way she was being portrayed and the fact that this was to be the shining moment of her career and people were going after her personally to get at her professionally,” he said.

Scruggs was a “wild child,” loud, foul-mouthed and often provocative, Martz said, but she was also relentless, hard-nosed and one of the best reporters he ever worked with. She died at 42 in 2001 from an overdose of prescription drugs.

Demand for disclaimer

In an op-ed, Journal-Constitution editor Riley wrote that there’s no evidence Scruggs committed the breach of journalistic ethics implied in the movie and disputed implications that the newspaper’s reporting was sloppy.

Eastwood defended the depiction of Scruggs, saying he’d “read a lot of material” on her that seemed to “corroborate the fact that she was somewhat on the wild side.” He also said the news media sometimes rushes because of competition to be first, and “they pull the trigger before they’re dialed in.”

In a letter sent Monday to Eastwood, a Warner Brothers lawyer and others, a lawyer for the newspaper demands a public statement that dramatization was used in the film’s portrayal of events and characters, and asks that a “prominent disclaimer” to that effect be added to the film.

“It is highly ironic that a film purporting to tell a tragic story of how the reputation of an FBI suspect was grievously tarnished appears bent on a path to severely tarnish the reputation of the AJC,” lawyer Martin Singer wrote.

Warner Brothers fired back, saying that the newspaper’s claims are baseless, that the film seeks to confirm Jewell’s innocence and restore his name.

“It is unfortunate and the ultimate irony that the Atlanta Journal Constitution, having been a part of the rush to judgment of Richard Jewell, is now trying to malign our filmmakers and cast,” the studio wrote in a statement.
 


Growing tensions between Turkey and the United States do not have to result in the end of the long-standing alliance despite some major rifts between Ankara and Washington.

The most notable split has come over Turkey’s decision to proceed with the purchase of Russia’s top-of-the-line missile defense system, the S-400, seen as a threat to NATO defense systems and to the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jet.

But the commander of U.S. European Command believes both countries have enough in common to salvage the relationship.

“The mil[itary]-to-mil[itary] convergence far outweighs the mil[itary]-to-mil[itary] divergence with the U.S. and Turkey and with NATO and Turkey,” General Tod Wolters told reporters during an appearance in Washington Tuesday.

“I saw no cracks in the armor in Turkey’s willingness to work side by side as a NATO partner with us,” he added, referring to talks with Turkish officials during the recent NATO meeting in London. “That’s what I know from my foxhole.”

U.S. Secretary for Defense Mark Esper waits for the start of a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 24, 2019.

The sentiment from the top-ranking U.S. general in Europe, though, contrasts with that of U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who warned Saturday that Turkey “may be spinning out of the NATO orbit.”

“I think Turkey has put itself in a position where it’s disadvantaged itself,” Esper said, adding he hoped relations could be repaired.

“They’ve fought with us from Korea to Afghanistan, and I think it’s in all of our interest to make sure that we pull them in closer to NATO,” he said.

But the hurdles are substantial.

Not only did Turkey incur the wrath of U.S. officials with the purchase of Russia’s S-400, it further raised the Pentagon’s ire with its decision to launch an incursion into northeastern Syria, targeting Kurdish forces that had partnered with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.

And there have been few signs Turkey is willing to back down. Officials there are still bristling at the U.S. decision to cut Ankara out of the F-35 development program and ban sales of the jet to Turkey.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, left, and Supreme Allied Commander Europe U.S. Air Force General Tod Wolters attend a NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels, June 26, 2019.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Monday threatened that his country “will naturally seek other quests” if Washington did not reverse its freeze on sales of the stealth fighter jet.

Other Turkish officials have said they will consider buying Russian-made jets, like the advanced Su-35 multirole fighter, if the U.S. does not change its mind.

Turkey’s stubbornness has not gone over well with U.S. lawmakers, who have grown increasingly vocal in calling for the U.S. administration to sanction Ankara under the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act (CAATSA).

FILE – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to journalists during a news conference during a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Nov. 20, 2019.

“The time for patience has long expired,” U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Lindsey Graham wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this month.

And it is not just the U.S. Some NATO allies also are cautious about the possibility of repairing ties with Turkey.

“It doesn’t depend on us,” Phillipe Etienne, the French ambassador to the U.S., said during a panel discussion in Washington Monday, though he noted at least during NATO’s meeting in London, all sides were talking.

“It’s clear we don’t agree on everything,” Etienne said. “But we had this discussion, which is very important.”

U.S. European Command’s General Wolters on Tuesday said the foundation for an improved relationship with Turkey exists, though he encouraged Ankara to take the first steps.

Dorian Jones contributed to this report.


The Pentagon has denied intentionally misleading the public about the 18-year war in Afghanistan, after The Washington Post published a trove of government documents revealing that officials made overly optimistic pronouncements they knew to be false and hid evidence that the conflict had become un-winnable. 

“There has been no intent by DoD to mislead Congress or the public,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell wrote to VOA on Monday. 

“The information contained in the interviews was provided to SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) for the express purpose of inclusion in SIGAR’s public reports,” he added.

The Post said the documents contain more than 400 interviews with senior military and government insiders who offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of war.

According to the Post, U.S. officials, most of whom spoke on the assumption that their remarks would not be made public, acknowledged that the strategies for fighting the war were flawed and that the U.S. wasted hundreds of billions of dollars trying to make Afghanistan into a stable, democratic nation. 

“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, said in 2015, according to the documents. “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

The Post said the interviews also highlight botched U.S. attempts to reduce corruption, build a competent Afghan army and reduce the country’s opium trade.

U.S. presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump all vowed to avoid becoming mired in “nation-building” in Afghanistan. However, the report shows how even from the early days of the war, senior officials in charge of directing U.S. policy in the country expressed confusion about Washington’s basic objectives and strategy for achieving them.

The Post said the interviews “contradict a long chorus of public statements” that assured the U.S. was “making progress in Afghanistan.”

Outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, who serves as the senior enlisted adviser to the top U.S. military officer, told reporters on Monday that he “firmly thought the strategy we had in place was working.”  

“I feel that we’ve never been lied to, and we are continuing to move forward (in Afghanistan),” Troxell added.

The Afghan war is estimated to have killed more than 150,000 people, including civilians, insurgents, local and foreign troops, since the U.S. and its allies invaded 18 years ago to oust the Taliban from power for sheltering al-Qaida leaders accused of plotting the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes on the U.S.

The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 2,400 U.S. service members and cost Washington nearly $1 trillion.

The Post waged a legal battle for three years to force the government to disclose the information because of its importance to the public.

The U.S. and the Afghan Taliban restarted peace negotiations on Saturday, three months after Trump abruptly stopped the yearlong process aimed at finding a political settlement with the insurgent group and ending the war in Afghanistan.

Afghan-born U.S. special reconciliation representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, led his team at a meeting Saturday in Doha, Qatar, where insurgent negotiators are based.

The draft agreement the U.S.-Taliban negotiations had produced before Trump called off the process on Sept. 7 would have set the stage for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

The Taliban, in return, had given counterterrorism guarantees and promised to engage in intra-Afghan peace negotiations to permanently end decades of hostilities in the country.


New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg launched his campaign less than three weeks ago, but he is already making his first foreign trip as a presidential candidate.

The Democrat will appear Tuesday at a United Nations global climate conference in Madrid, where he’ll share the results of his private push to organize thousands of U.S. cities and businesses to abide by the terms of a global climate treaty that the Trump administration is working to abandon. The appearance comes as Bloomberg, a former Republican whose dedication to the environment earned him the designation of special U.N. envoy for climate action, tries to find his footing in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary election.

It’s rare for a presidential candidate to step onto the international stage before securing the nomination, and virtually unheard of for a candidate to do so in the first month of his or her candidacy.

Earlier this year, Bernie Sanders appeared in Canada to highlight his fight to lower prescription drug costs, while former candidate Beto O’Rourke met with asylum seekers in Mexico. Both men represented states that bordered those countries, however, and there were no formal talks with foreign leaders involved.

Bloomberg shared his plan to appear at the global climate conference on social media on Monday.

“I’m going to the climate summit in Madrid because President Trump won’t,” he said, adding that he plans to “meet with environmental leaders from around the world about next steps on tackling the climate crisis.”

Bloomberg also vowed in a statement to rejoin the Paris climate agreement in his first official act as president.

Campaign aide Brynne Craig said climate would be “a central issue” for Bloomberg this week and throughout his presidential run.

She said the issue “is near and dear to his heart” and “a front-of-mind issue for Democratic voters.”

The 77-year-old billionaire has used his wealth to make an impact in the global fight against climate change and in his 2020 presidential campaign. He is largest donor in the history of the Sierra Club, and he has spent more than $60 million in the first two weeks of his campaign on television ads now running in all 50 states.

Many progressives remain resistant to his candidacy.

“How many self-declared climate champion billionaires does the race need? The answer is none,” said Mitch Jones, climate and energy program director for the group Food & Water Watch, which has been critical of Bloomberg’s pragmatic approach to fighting climate change. “This is just Bloomberg trying to insert himself into international climate negotiations to bolster his campaign.”

Bloomberg’s presidential campaign released a new online video ad contrasting his message on climate change with that of Trump, who served formal notice last month that the U.S. intends to become the first country to withdraw from the Paris accord.

“It’s getting hotter. But while fire and smoke choke our air, Donald Trump is making it worse,” Bloomberg’s new ad says, describing Trump as a “climate change denier” and Bloomberg as a “climate change champion.”

AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of the American electorate, found that 92% of people who voted for Democrats in the 2018 midterms said they were at least somewhat concerned about climate change. Seventy percent said they were very concerned.

 


U.S. President Donald Trump will join Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday for talks with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the White House announced.

The three will “discuss the state of the bilateral relationship,” a senior Trump administration official said Monday.
 
The meeting, which was originally announced to involve only Pompeo and Lavrov, was widely speculated to be attended by Trump, as well.
 
White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said such a visit by Trump would reciprocate a courtesy extended by President Vladimir Putin to Pompeo during his last visit to Moscow.

“When Pompeo has gone to Russia, Putin’s seen him. And one of the things that we’ve said with the Chinese and the Russians is, we want reciprocity,” O’Brien said on the “Face the Nation” television program.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, pose for a photo before their talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, southern Russia, May 14, 2019.
FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, pose for a photo before their talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, southern Russia, May 14, 2019.

The trio is expected to meet for a half-day of talks that include a working lunch and a news conference. U.S. officials say the three will discuss arms control, as well as the situations in Ukraine and Syria, among other issues.

Strained ties
 
The meeting comes as bilateral ties between the United States and Russia are strained over allegations of election meddling, as well as the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
 
The talks appear to have been initiated after Putin said last week that Moscow was eager to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty by the end of this year “without any preconditions.”

At the recent NATO summit in London, Trump said that he was aware of Moscow’s desire to “do a deal” on arms control, and said that China could also be brought into the process.
 
Pompeo and Lavrov met several times this year, including in Russia and in New York at the United Nations. Lavrov has not been in Washington since he met Trump at the White House in May 2017, a meeting that led to accusations that Trump divulged classified information during the talks.

Impeachment inquiry

The talks come at a time when Washington is embroiled over the ongoing impeachment inquiry against Trump, which has focused on allegations that he withheld aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Kyiv into launching an investigation into Trump’s potential Democratic rival in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections.

Russia has also been drawn into the conversation, with some Democrats arguing that the scope of the impeachment trial should include allegations of obstruction of justice by Trump for his dealings with special counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
 
Mueller’s report concluded that Russia did interfere to try to tilt the vote in favor of Trump. Moscow has denied any interference.

While Mueller’s report concluded that Trump did not collude with Russia, it also did not fully exonerate the president on possible crimes of obstruction of justice.
 


North Korea addressed new insults to U.S. President Donald Trump Monday, calling him a “heedless and erratic old man.”

Pyongyang was responding to a Trump tweet saying that “Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way.” Trump added that Kim “does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November.”

Former North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, said in a statement that his country has “nothing more to lose” even though “the U.S. may take away anything more from us, it can never remove the strong sense of self-respect, might and resentment against the U.S. from us.”

Kim Yong Chol said Trump’s tweets clearly show that he is “bereft of patience” and the time may come “when we cannot but call him a ‘dotard’ again.”

He leveled accusations that the Trump administration is attempting to buy time ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim Jong Un for Washington “to salvage the nuclear talks.”

Trump on Sunday warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un against hostile military actions, even as Pyongyang announced it had conducted “a very important test” at a satellite launching site.

“He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore,” the U.S. leader said. “He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November. North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has tremendous economic potential, but it must denuclearize as promised. NATO, China, Russia, Japan, and the entire world is unified on this issue!” 

….with the U.S. Presidential Election in November. North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has tremendous economic potential, but it must denuclearize as promised. NATO, China, Russia, Japan, and the entire world is unified on this issue!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2019

Trump’s remarks came after North Korea’s state media said the test was conducted Saturday at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station 7, a long-range rocket launching site station in Tongch’ang-ri, a part of North Pyongan Province located near the border of China.

The government-run Korean Central News Agency said the results “will have an important effect on changing the strategic position of the DPRK once again in the near future,” it added, using an acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But the report did not say what kind of test was performed at the site.

FILE – In this March 6, 2019 file photo, a man watches a TV screen showing an image of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea.

The North Korean announcement came a day after CNN reported that Planet Labs, a commercial satellite imagery company, had detected activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, including the image of a large shipping container.

This year has been one of North Korea’s busiest in terms of missile launches. Saturday’s test comes as North Korea continues to emphasize its declared end-of-year deadline for the United States to change its approach to stalled nuclear talks.

Pyongyang has carried out 13 rounds of short- or medium-range launches since May. Most experts say nearly all of the tests have involved some form of ballistic missile technology.

Earlier this month, Trump, in answering reporters’ questions about North Korea at the NATO summit in London, said, “Now we have the most powerful military we’ve ever had and we’re by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully, we don’t have to use it, but if we do, we’ll use it. If we have to, we’ll do it.”

North Korea responded in kind. “Anyone can guess with what action the DPRK will answer if the U.S. undertakes military actions against the DPRK,” Pak Jong Chon, head of the Korean People’s Army, said on state media. “One thing I would like to make clear is that the use of armed forces is not the privilege of the U.S. only.”

North Korea last tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017 and conducted a nuclear test in September 2017.

In April 2018, Kim announced a self-imposed moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests, saying North Korea “no longer need(s)” those tests. Recently, however, North Korean officials have issued reminders that North Korea’s pause on ICBM and nuclear tests was self-imposed and can be reversed.