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 ErnstSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Grassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk Progressive group launches campaign targeting vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment MORE (Iowa), a key Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is raising questions about President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group 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 SchumerVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Liberal super PAC to run digital ads slamming Trump over Medicare comments 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 CornynNadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public 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.