Panetta, who headed the Pentagon under President Barack Obama, said Trump never completed the necessary “preparatory work” ahead of the historic meeting.
“I’m very worried” about the current U.S. relationship with North Korea “because frankly, I think we have a failed summit on our hands right now,” Panetta said on ABC’s “This Week.”
The summit “was all about show,” he said. “It was about shaking hands, exchanging words. But the underlying work on process, on looking at nuclear weapons sites, on inspection regimes, on what should be done with sanctions ― all of the things that need to be done to produce some kind of peaceful solution ― were not done.”
Days before the June 11 summit in Singapore, Trump raised eyebrows when he told reporters that he didn’t need to “prepare very much” for it.
“It’s about attitude,” Trump said. “It’s about willingness to get things done.”
Trump emerged from the summit declaring it a great diplomatic success and he lavished praise on Kim ― something he has continued to do. But questions quickly surrounded Trump’s claim that North Korea had agreed to denuclearize, and U.S. relations with Pyongyang have appeared to sour in recent weeks.
North Korea experts reported shortly after the summit that satellite images proved the isolated country was continuing to develop their nuclear sites. Still, Trump tweeted several times in July that he believed North Korea would denuclearize.
“I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake,” Trump tweeted July 9.
But on Aug. 24, Trump tweeted that he had directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel a planned visit to North Korea amid the signs that its nuclear program remained intact. The president blamed China ― North Korea’s main ally and a target of Trump’s trade policies ― for helping block progress on the nuclear issue.
“I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Trump tweeted. “Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved.”
Panetta, turning to domestic political matters in his Sunday comments, urged Democratic lawmakers not to push for impeachment against Trump until special counsel Robert Mueller has completed his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“I think Bob Mueller’s report will ultimately determine whether or not there are going to be additional steps taken against the president,” Panetta said. ”[Democrats] ought not to get ahead of that report because that will be the key to determining what happens in the future.”