The President speaks in Summit County

President Trump in Richfield, Ohio WTAM

(Richfield) - President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to “hold up” the trade  agreement his administration finalized with South Korea this week in an  effort to gain more leverage in potential talks with North Korea.

Speaking on infrastructure in Ohio, Trump highlighted the recently  completed renegotiation of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, but he  warned, “I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea.”  The announcement comes as the two Koreas have announced plans to hold  bilateral meetings next month in advance of a possible meeting between  Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un by the end of May.

Trump noted the “rhetoric has calmed down” with North Korea, but  added he may hold up the first trade agreement concluded by his  administration, “because it’s a very strong card and I want to make sure  everyone is treated fairly.”

Trump didn’t explain why the trade deal and North Korea talks  couldn’t proceed simultaneously. But the U.S. is counting on close  U.S.-South Korea alignment to present a united front as both countries  press the North to denuclearize. The complex and politically charged  issue of the renegotiated trade deal could prove distracting just as the  U.S. is pursuing high-stakes diplomacy with Pyongyang.

The president’s visit to Richfield, Ohio, was meant to be a push for  upgrades to the nation’s aging roads and bridges in his first public  appearance since an adult-film actress claimed on national TV that they  had sex months after Trump’s wife gave birth to his fifth child.

Instead, Trump turned what was billed as a “major speech” on  infrastructure into 53-minute campaign-style rally, with talk of  defeating the Islamic State and caring for veterans — not to mention a  plug for the television reboot of “Roseanne.”

He called for a plan deploying $200 billion in federal money to spur  at least $1.5 trillion in spending over a decade to repair or replace  highways, bridges, ports, airports and other infrastructure.

“We will transform our roads and bridges from a source of endless frustration into a source of incredible pride,” he said.

But in a concession to political realities in Washington, where  lawmakers are increasingly focused on their re-elections this fall in  what is set to be a difficult campaign cycle for Republicans, Trump  said, “You’re probably going to have to wait until after the election.”

Trump is claiming Democrats don’t want to work with him on  infrastructure because they don’t want to give him any additional “wins”  since his tax bill passed in December.

Trump unveiled the sweeping infrastructure proposal in February and  cast it as one that could garner bipartisan support. But the plan relies  heavily on state and local governments for the bulk of the spending,  raising concerns among members of Congress about the possibility of  higher commuter tolls and the sale of assets to raise the money.

There is little expectation that Congress will take up a sweeping  infrastructure proposal along the lines of what Trump envisions — or  that Republicans in control of the House and Senate will write their own  legislation — as lawmakers begin to shift their focus to the challenge  of getting re-elected in November.

Instead, Congress plans to package a series of related measures,  including beefed-up spending in the big budget bill Trump signed into  law last week. That bill, which funds the government through Sept. 30,  included more money for transportation projects, rural broadband and  other investments.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promoted it in a tweet as “long-overdue updates to our country’s infrastructure.”

Trump’s speech in northern Ohio was his first appearance in public  since Friday, when he spoke at the White House and criticized a massive  government funding bill he had signed into law. The president, first  lady Melania Trump and their 12-year-old son, Barron, spent last weekend  at their Palm Beach, Florida, estate. Trump returned to the White House  on Sunday shortly before CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired its interview with  porn actress Stormy Daniels, who says the married Trump had sex with her  in his Lake Tahoe hotel room in 2006.

Trump, through his personal attorney and White House aides, has  denied the affair. He has not commented on the allegations himself.

In Ohio, Trump also discussed findings in a new report from the White  House Council of Economic Advisers saying the infrastructure proposal  would contribute modestly to economic growth over the 10-year period and  help put hundreds of thousands of unemployed laborers back to work.

Trump was returning to his Florida home after the speech.

(Photos by Getty Images & Ken Robinson/WTAM) 

(c) by iHeartMedia, Inc. & the Associated Press. 

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