GOP senator questions suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea

GOP senator questions suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstErnst town hall in Iowa gets contentious over guns Air Force probe finds no corroboration of sexual assault allegations against Trump pick Gun control activists set to flex muscle in battle for Senate MORE (Iowa), a key Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is raising questions about President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE’s decision to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, something that appeared to surprise military officials.

“I don’t think that’s wise because we have done these exercises for years,” Ernst, who chairs an Armed Services subcommittee, said Tuesday. “I would just ask the president, why do we need to suspend them? They are legal.”

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U.S. military officials said Tuesday they still plan to conduct a major exercise with South Korean troops in the fall, saying they have not received updated guidance on ending training exercises with the South.

“We will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Lovett, a U.S. military spokesperson in South Korea.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJewish Democratic congresswoman and veteran blasts Trump's 'disloyalty' comments Schumer says Trump encouraging anti-Semites Saagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? MORE (N.Y.) earlier in the day questioned the president trading a concession on legal military exercises in exchange for North Korea freezing its illegal nuclear testing program.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (Texas), however, cautioned that Trump appears to be negotiating in the press and what he says now may not be part of any eventual deal with North Korea.

“The president is negotiating in the press,” he said of Trump’s offer to suspend joint exercises. “My interpretation is he saw that as a demonstration of good faith but certainly this is just the beginning and not the end."

“I wouldn’t give it too much significance,” he added. 

Trump declared during a press conference after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, or "war games," will stop during negotiations with the North.