Great guy, fratricide aside?
On Feb. 13, 2017, Kim Jong Nam was fatally attacked with VX nerve agent by two women at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.
The assassination victim was the estranged older half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whose Pyongyang regime is widely presumed to have ordered the hit.
Now The Wall Street Journal and a book author who works for The Washington Post report that the slain relative met with CIA operatives and with officials of such American allies as South Korea and Japan.
So on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was asked about it.
His answer raised more questions.
“I see that, and I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un,” Trump said. “I think the relationship is very well, but I appreciated the letter.
"I saw the information about the CIA with regard to his brother or half brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”
Stuck in the muddle
Trump has hailed "Rocket Man" Kim ever since they "fell in love," in the American president's words. He's publicly minimized intelligence from his own appointees.
But he has not managed to revive stalled negotiations with Kim over North Korea's missile program and efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Trump also called Kim's past letters "beautiful," without revealing their contents.
Stink eyes amid Hawkeyes
Because Joe Biden arrived in Iowa for campaign stops on the same day as Trump, the two got to target each other as if setting a tone for the general election.
"President Trump is in Iowa today and I hope his presence here will be a clarifying event," Biden said in the city of Ottumwa in the southeast of the Hawkeye state.
"Because Iowa farmers have been crushed by his tariff war with China and no one knows better than the folks in Iowa. He thinks that being tough is great. Well, it’s really easy to be tough when someone else absorbs the pain."
Biden condemned Trump as "an existential threat to America."
Various critics including Democratic contenders have long called Trump's emotional and intellectual fitness into question. As if to deflect that, the president said in his nose-thumbing style before taking off:
"I'd rather run against I think Biden than anybody. I think he's the weakest mentally. And I like running against people that are weak mentally. I think Joe is the weakest up here. The other ones have much more energy."
While in the state, Trump talked up ethanol production and bashed Biden as being bad for the American energy industry.
Turning down the House
Since Attorney General William P. Barr and former White House counsel Donald McGahn have declined to comply with subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee, the lower chamber of Congress passed a resolution Tuesday that could pave the way for a court fight over documents and testimony. The party-line vote was 229 to 191.
Shortly before the vote, on another front, the Justice Department threatened to invoke executive privilege to block House access to documents related to the controversy over a citizenship question on the census.
Pelosi: 'I'm done with him'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi found yet another way Tuesday to push Trump's buttons short of ordering impeachment — by openly dismissing his outbursts.
Following up his calling her a "nasty, vindictive, horrible person" while both were in France to commemorate D-Day, Pelosi said at a fiscal summit in Washington:
“I’m done with him. I don’t even want to talk about him.”
On his personal attacks, she said: “I just consider the source. My stock goes up every time he attacks me.”
What else is happening:
- While Trump insists there really is a migration deal with Mexico, its chances of solving the border crisis are hard to gauge.
- He waved a piece of paper that he said was part of a longer signed agreement but didn't release its mystery ingredients.
- Democratic state attorneys general sued to block a T-Mobile takeover of Sprint on antitrust grounds — another effort to steer policy independently of the Trump administration.
- The Treasury Department released final rules that nix a workaround on the new caps on state and local tax deductions.
- Cracks appear in the Republican facade when it comes to budget talks between the White House and Senate.