Like a lot of things that involve Donald Trump, the campaign to award the president the Peace Prize began as a fraud.
On February 27th, the Nobel committee announced that someone had forged a nomination for Trump to win the award, while also noting for the first time that the same thing happened last year. The committee referred the forgeries to Oslo police, whose investigators contacted the FBI, suggesting that the forgeries came from the United States.
A little over a week later, Rep. Luke Messer from Indiana released a statement floating the idea in earnest on account of Trump's much-hyped negotiations with Kim Jong-un. "If North Korea talks lead to concrete action, President Trump should be well on his way to his own Nobel Peace Prize," he wrote, adding that Obama received his Peace Prize in 2009 "for being a charming presidential candidate."
But merely voicing support for Trump to bring home the prize wasn't enough for some Republicans. On May 2nd, a group of 18 congressmen led by Messer submitted a letter to the Nobel committee nominating Trump for the prestigious award, the winner of which will be announced in October. A few weeks after that, a group of seven governors led by South Carolina's Henry McMaster submitted a letter of their own, calling the negotiations with North Korea an "unprecedented victory for global peace and security."
After Trump canceled the summit on Thursday, Rolling Stone reached out to Messer and McMaster, along with representatives Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Michael Burgess of Texas, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen of American Samoa, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Doug LaMalfa of California, David McKinley of West Virginia, Brian Babin of Texas, Diane Black of Tennessee, Steve King of Iowa, Pete Olson of Texas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Jim Renacci of Ohio, Evan Jenkins of West Virginia, Drew Ferguson of Georgia, and governors Kay Ivey of Alabama, Phil Bryant of Mississippi and Paul LePage of Maine to see if they stood by their decision.
Renacci, Norman and Cramer were the only three leaders to respond.
"Congressman Renacci still fully supports his decision to nominate President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize," his team replied by email. "He has freed our hostages while North Korea destroyed their nuclear test site ahead of his visit. ISIS is collapsing and we’re closer to ending the Korean War than we’ve been since the 1950’s. Considering Barack Obama received the prize for simply having a pulse and then recklessly destabilizing the globe, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could keep a straight face while questioning if Trump deserves one."
"President Trump is to be commended for getting North Korea to the table for potential negotiations which has not been accomplished by any other of our former presidents," replied Norman. "One of the greatest attributes of President Trump is his willingness to walk away if the deal is bad for America. Just because it didn't happen now, does not mean it will not happen in the future. If and when it does happen, the President will deserve the Nobel Peace Prize and I'm proud of signing on to the recommendation and yes it will remain."
The comment from Cramer's representative as to whether the North Dakota congressman still supports Trump's nomination was a little more succinct: "Yes he does."
The campaign to make Trump a Nobel laureate intensified in late April after Kim Jong-un met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The summit between the adversarial leaders was a historic step toward peace, and many credited Trump's aggressive posture toward the country. Senator Lindsey Graham said on Fox News that the president "deserves the Nobel Peace Prize" if the two Koreas were to reach an agreement. Several other Trump allies gladly hopped on board the bandwagon, including Laura Ingraham who, like Messer, cited Obama.
When will we see the headline: “Trump Ends the Korean War”? Unlike Obama, he actually deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. @realDonaldTrump— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) April 27, 2018
A few days later, while Trump was speaking at a campaign rally in Michigan, the crowd started chanting "Nobel! Nobel! Nobel!" after Trump brought up talks with North Korea.
South Korean President Moon felt similarly. “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize," he said, according to a Blue House official. "What we need is only peace."
Trump didn't object, of course. "Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it," Trump told reporters when asked if he thinks he should win the Nobel Prize. "You know what I want to do? I want to get it finished. The prize is victory for the world. Not ever for here, I want victory for the world, because that's what we're talking about. So that's the only prize I want."
The premature calls for Trump to win the Nobel Prize were not unrelated to relations unraveling. Trump and his allies seem to have viewed the summit largely as a means to garner positive press, and the "Mission Accomplished!" vibe put forth by the administration signaled a lack of respect for the gravity of the situation. In the end, like so many other aspects of Trump's career both inside and outside the White House, the move toward diplomacy was a lot of bluster and not much substance. The White House wasn't able to project a unified front as to how to approach the negotiating table, and Trump reportedly wasn't even interested in receiving briefings on North Korea's nuclear capabilities. According to the Associated Press, which spoke to multiple administration officials about the negotiation efforts, the president was "almost singularly focused on the pageantry of the summit."
Now the summit may never even happen, and Trump and North Korea are hurling bellicose rhetoric back and forth across the Pacific. In a statement released shortly before the June 12th meeting was canceled, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui noted that "whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States."
Trump fired back in his letter canceling the summit, writing that America's nuclear capabilities "are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used." It's hard to imagine threatening nuclear war is looked upon favorably by the Nobel committee.
Following Trump's nixing of the meeting, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan released a statement saying that North Korea is ready to meet "at any time." This is a good sign, but if America learned anything from how quickly the June 12th summit fell apart, it's that diplomacy with a volatile foreign adversary should be approached with caution, and commentators shouldn't prematurely heap praise on the president before any real progress–
The Art of The Deal baby!!! https://t.co/fCrQVWc4Vy— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 25, 2018
This post will be updated if and when more leaders respond to our request for comment.