Former Bolton aide pushes back on report of nuclear freeze with North Korea

A former Chief of Staff to National Security Adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonSchumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord Why President Trump must keep speaking out on Hong Kong Trump meets with national security team on Afghanistan peace plan MORE is pushing back against a New York Times report that the U.S. may accept a “nuclear freeze” from North Korea in a new round of negotiations.

“I know there’s a New York Times today saying that the administration is considering denuclearization — that story I understand is false,” Fred Fleitz, who also previously served as a deputy assistant to President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE, told Hill.TV during an interview on Monday.

The former NSC official cited a tweet from U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, who claimed that the report was false and a “reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President.”

“I read this NYT story with curiosity. Neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to ‘settle for a nuclear freeze by NK,’ ” Bolton tweeted Monday morning.

The Times said it stood by its reporting in a statement to The Hill.

Fleitz, though, backed Bolton, claiming that there hasn’t been an interagency process for such a move and arguing that such a proposal would go against Trump’s promise of a denuclearization deal with North Korea.

“This is a rogue element in the administration trying to push administration policy,” he told Hill.TV.

Fleitz went on to note that that Trump walked away from a nuclear deal with North Korea leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnPompeo expresses concern over North Korea missile tests State Dept. extends travel ban to North Korea Can we do business with Kim Jong Un? Leadership analysis might give clues MORE at a February summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Both sides blamed each other for the failed talks.

“Lower level people were generating ideas that the president was more flexible to make a deal than he really is,” he said referring to the failed talks in Vietnam. “He says no nukes, he wants denuclearization, I think that is a red line.”

Trump recently returned to the White House after making headlines — and history — over the weekend in Asia.

The president on Sunday step into the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to meet with Kim and became the first sitting U.S. president to cross into North Korea.  The two leaders spoke privately for nearly an hour and agreed to restart denuclearization talks.

“Speed is not the object,” Trump told reporters following the meeting. “We want to see if we can do a really comprehensive, good deal.”

—Tess Bonn