Speed Reads

what is he talking about

The North Korean sanctions Trump tried to reverse? They reportedly didn't exist.

When President Trump announced last week that he was unexpectedly canceling some North Korean sanctions, it left more than just his Twitter following confused.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that the U.S. Treasury had announced "additional large scale sanctions" on North Korea, but he was already withdrawing them. The problem was, the Treasury never made that announcement — and it never intended to, Bloomberg reports.

Per four sources who spoke to Bloomberg, Trump's tweet last Friday didn't actually refer to sanctions that had been announced "today," as he wrote. He reportedly was talking about sanctions against two Chinese shippers, which the Treasury had announced Thursday. The Treasury accused the Chinese companies of helping North Korea avoid separate American sanctions issued over its nuclear program.

So sure, the sanctions Trump reportedly referenced technically involved North Korea. But it's also totally reasonable that Trump's tweet left current and former government officials "stunned," Bloomberg writes. State Department, Treasury, and White House officials wouldn't even mention the tweet for a few hours. They eventually settled on releasing an unattributed statement saying those Chinese sanctions hadn't been reversed, and that the government wouldn't "wouldn't pursue additional sanctions against North Korea," Bloomberg continues.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later explained the tweet as Trump saying he "likes Chairman Kim and he doesn't think these sanctions will be necessary." Yet according to two sources who spoke to Bloomberg, those sanctions weren't anywhere in the Treasury's plans.