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Is it for real? Trump’s officials brace for grilling over White House invitation for Duterte

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The State Department and National Security Council are expected to question administration officials over the United States President Donald Trump’s invitation for President Rodrigo Duterte to go to the White House, according to a New York Times report.

In addition to seeking clarification about the invitation, the two agencies are expected to raise objections to Duterte’s visit.

Trump invited Duterte to visit the White House during their phone conversation on April 29, which has been described as very friendly.

Duterte was not the only Southeast Asian head of state Trump called over the weekend and invited to the White House– the prime ministers of Singapore and Thailand also did.

Trump’s consistency, however, has done little to shield him from criticism.

Human Rights Watch advocacy director for Asia John said the White House invitation for Duterte is tantamount to endorsing the Philippine President’s war on drugs, making Trump “morally complicit in future killings.”

“Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself,” he said.

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted: “We are watching in real time as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash.”

In Trump’s defense, administration officials said he wants to mend strained relations with the Philippines amid China’s expansionism and the tension in the Korean Peninsula.