Trump pick for South Korea ambassador will no longer be nominated: report
A distinguished expert on North Korea is no longer being considered for nomination by President Trump as ambassador to South Korea after he expressed disagreement over the administration’s policies toward Pyongyang, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Victor Cha, a former official in the George W. Bush administration, was expected to be Trump’s nominee for ambassador, until Cha privately told National Security Council officials that he objected to certain aspects of the president’s strategy, people familiar with the situation told the Post.
Cha reportedly objected to the consideration of a limited strike on North Korea, as well as Trump’s threats to withdraw from a free trade agreement with South Korea.
A source familiar with the nomination process told the Post that a “flag was raised” during Cha’s background check process, but did not comment further. A former Obama official who knows Cha told the Post that it was “inconceivable” that such a situation would occur so late in the process.
A White House official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed to the Post that the administration is now considering other candidates.
“We have yet to nominate anyone for the post, but it is our intention to do so as soon as we can find the appropriate candidate,” the official told the newspaper.
According to the Post, Cha’s nomination was relatively far along in the process, as the White House had formally notified Seoul of the nomination. The South Korean government had reportedly accepted it.
The Post’s report comes just weeks before the Winter Olympics, which will take place in Pyeongchang amid rising tensions between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Earlier this month, Trump tweeted that his nuclear button is “much bigger and more powerful” than Kim’s.
The Hill has reached out to both Cha and the White House for comment.