A presidential candidate from South Korea’s former ruling party said Wednesday that if what President Trump said about the mission of the U.S. aircraft carrier was a lie “South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says” the remainder of his term.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Hong Joon-pyo, the candidate from Park Geun-hye’s party, said in an interview that Trump’s earlier comments about moving the USS Carl Vinson toward North Korea in a show of force was important to South Korea’s security.
The U.S. Navy said on Tuesday that it did not move the USS Carl Vinson toward North Korea despite President Trump’s earlier comments he made on Fox Business that he was sending an “armada” to deter Pyongyang.
“We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier,” Trump told the Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo last week. “We have the best military people on Earth. And I will say this: he (Kim Jong Un) is doing the wrong thing.”
Military officials said at the time that the Vinson was canceling a previous itinerary and instead was going to head toward the Korean Peninsula. The ship, instead, ended up heading to Australia, the Journal reported. It is expected to reach the peninsula next week.
The White House said it did not mislead allies about the ship’s movements.
“The president said we have an armada going toward the peninsula,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. “That’s a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather.”
Narushige Michishita, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, told the Journal that regardless of whether the U.S. intended to deceive or the narrative was a miscommunication, it looked bad for the White House.
“At a time of emergency, disinformation could be used as a tactic, but if the U.S. president spreads disinformation in peacetime like now, it would hurt the credibility of the U.S.,” he said.