By LAURIE KELLMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) – China is more of a problem than a partner for the United States on dealing with nuclear-armed North Korea, a leading Republican senator and ally of President Donald Trump told the Associated Press during a wide-ranging interview Thursday.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said China has been “lying for 25 years” about wanting to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear capability. He accused Beijing of using North Korea as a diversion from economic warfare against the United States and other misbehavior.
“China benefits from a nuclear North Korea,” said Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in an AP Newsmaker interview. “That’s why they’ve been playing both sides of the street, saying one thing to Western officials in public but doing nothing to stop North Korea from getting nuclear weapons or now to get them to denuclearize.”
Cotton’s remarks are at odds with Trump’s more positive assessment of China’s support of tough U.N. penalties against North Korea and come at a tense time. But Trump has consistently called for China to step up its restrictions on trade ties with North Korea. The isolated communist country recently launched its longest-range missile yet, with the potential of reaching the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
The interview also delved into the sexual harassment politics roiling the United States, from Hollywood and corporate executive offices to campaigns and Capitol Hill, with Sen. Al Franken seemingly on the brink of being the next casualty. A majority of the Senate’s Democrats called on the two-term Minnesota Democrat to quit after the emergence of another accuser on Wednesday, a woman who said he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. Franken denied the allegation.
In Alabama, GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore hopes to win next Tuesday’s special election even as allegations of sexual misconduct are swirling. Multiple women have accused him of sexual misconduct decades ago, when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Cotton declined to say whether he thinks equal standards apply in all cases against Franken, Moore and Trump, who has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct and was recorded by “Access Hollywood” bragging about touching women without their consent. All three men have denied details of the accusations, if not the claims outright.
On Moore and others, Cotton said, voters “are going to make that decision, just like the people of this country made their decision last year on Donald Trump.”
He added that women should be able to complain of sexual assault and the accused should be able to defend themselves.
“We shouldn’t have trial by newspaper,” he said.
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