CIA Director Gina Haspel praises Trump’s “wisdom” on North Korea

CIA director Gina Haspel said Thursday that President Trump had “shown a lot of wisdom” in his outreach to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, though she sidestepped reports that emerged late Wednesday suggesting Kim observed the testing of a new weapon and wanted a more “mature” interlocutor than Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“I am very proud that we’ve been able to support this administration’s effort to engage the North Koreans in a dialogue — and that’s not to downplay the difficulty of that or the obstacles or challenges associated with it,” Haspel said, speaking before a small audience of students, faculty and press at a scheduled event at Auburn University.”But after years of failure I do think that President Trump has shown a lot of wisdom in reaching out his hand to the North Korean leader and to suggest to them that there might be a different future for the North Korean people.”
She added that the CIA was “working hard to support the president, the national security team and Secretary Pompeo as they try and establish a regular and positive dialogue with the North Koreans.”But in what appeared to be the first overtly provocative step taken by Kim since the failure of the Hanoi summit in February, North Korean press announced Kim’s observation of a “new-type tactical guided weapon” the evening before Haspel spoke. U.S. officials appear for the moment to have ruled out a ballistic missile test, and say the testing looks more likely to have been a new kind of artillery or tank round.In an added blow to what have become fitful negotiations with the North, a separate report from Pyongyang later quoted a senior official from North Korea’s foreign ministry who accused Secretary Pompeo of “self-indulgence” and demanded he be replaced with someone “more careful and mature.”A State Department spokesperson told CBS News the U.S. “remains ready to engage North Korea in a constructive negotiation.”Haspel, whose appearance Thursday marked the second time she has made substantive public remarks since her confirmation nearly a year ago, delivered a speech before engaging in a question-and-answer session moderated by the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess.The event was interrupted twice by unidentified protesters who objected to the CIA’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program and Haspel’s known involvement in it. “Tell them who you tortured!” yelled one protester, who also called Haspel a “decrepit human being.”Haspel stood stone-faced behind a podium while the young man was removed from the auditorium. Then she said flatly, “I’ll continue,” and resumed her remarks.