President Trump’s national security advisor defended his approach to human rights in countries with authoritarian leaders, arguing that it doesn’t help to “yell.”
“How much does it help to yell about these problems?” National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster told journalists at the daily White House briefing. “What the President is doing is being effective.”
McMaster’s comments, which come ahead of President Trump’s 11-day trip to the Asia Pacific region, came in response to a question about the reluctance of the White House to engage countries such as Turkey and the Philippines on human rights abuses.
While Trump has aggressively criticized authoritarian regimes in Venezuela, North Korea and elsewhere he has remained silent on other leaders with poor human rights records such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
McMaster suggested that the U.S. may be engaging in these discussions behind closed doors. “I don’t think you should assume anything,” he said.
Trump’s trip, which will include stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, had been billed as an opportunity to engage Asian countries on the ongoing conflict with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
McMaster suggested Thursday that the U.S. might consider adding North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terror, citing specifically the assassination of the brother of the country’s leader earlier this year in Malaysia.