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 ErnstPush for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation On The Money: Negotiators aiming to reach deal Monday night | Why border talks stalled | Treasury calls reports on dip in tax refunds 'misleading' | Cuomo, Trump to discuss SALT deduction cap MORE (Iowa), a key Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is raising questions about President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview 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 SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration 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 CornynOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week 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.