Nuke standoff: Now it’s personal
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has sent in his review for Donald Trump’s UN General Assembly speech.
If the president’s stark warnings were intended to nudge the young tyrant in Pyongyang toward sober reflection, it’s not evident that it’s working.
Trump “insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world,” said Kim in an official English translation of his statement. “A frightened dog barks louder,” he said dismissively of Trump.
To Trump’s warning that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to defend itself and its allies, Kim’s response was, essentially: right back at ya.
“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” said Kim.
“Dotard” is an archaic word for an old person whose mental faculties are in decline. As for “deranged,” it’s worth noting Kim’s habit of executing those who displease him, including family members.
For the text of Kim’s statement, click here.
Trump’s follow-up on North Korea was more sanctions, announced in an executive order Thursday, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
Financial institutions and cargo carriers who trade with Kim’s regime would face getting frozen out of the U.S. financial system.
“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said.
The president had lunch with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, the countries that would be at the front line of any conflict. Asked if diplomacy was still possible, Trump said: “Why not?”
The take-away: Health gamble
Trump has gotten behind the Graham-Cassidy Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, but its chances are iffy at best even if it somehow squeaks through the Senate, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
The chances for House approval has been complicated by its funding formulas tilted against blue states in favor of red ones, which has Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), for one, leaning against it.
Moscow’s line in your timeline
Facebook says the company will provide congressional investigators looking into Moscow’s election interference with the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian company with Kremlin ties.
While Facebook does not usually disclose user content, Facebook said it decided to release the content to the government because “the public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election.”
Still, the president on Friday railed to his Twitter followers about a Russia "hoax." He did not address the specifics.
Wind at his back
The NBC/Journal Poll found 71% of Americans support his recent deal with Democratic leaders to provide hurricane relief and keep the government open for 90 days. Those surveyed by CNN gave high marks to the federal response to the past month’s hurricanes.
A trusted Trump security man and ex-FBI agent hired in 2015 had close knowledge of the past criminal involvements and government cooperation of Trump business associate, Felix Sater of Port Washington, now a figure in the Russia investigation, the McClatchy news organization reports.
The bodyguard, Gary Uher, helped turn Sater into an informant in the late 1990s. The Russian-born Sater was a key player in trying to arrange for a Trump real estate project in Moscow after the presidential campaign was underway.
After leaving the FBI, Uher was referred to the Trump Organization by Bernard Kerik, the former NYPD commissioner who went to prison in a corruption case.
What else is happening:
- Trump pledged the federal government will work “with great gusto” to help Puerto Rico, which was “absolutely obliterated” by Hurricane Maria, and will visit the island at a date to be determined.
- The president travels Friday to campaign for GOP primary candidate Luther Strange for the Alabama Senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became his attorney general.
- EPA employees are attending mandatory training sessions against leaking, according to The Associated Press, which says it obtained training materials from the hourlong class.
- Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is even a more frequent flier on chartered private planes at taxpayer expense than first reported, according to Politico. Sources told the news site that Price’s trips since early May cost more than $300,000.
- Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said he is “getting very high marks.” Erdogan — criticized for increasingly autocratic behavior — is “running a very difficult part of the world,” Trump said.
- Security guards got into another violent clash on American soil with anti-Erdogan protesters at an appearance in the city. One of the demonstrators shouted: "You're a terrorist, get out of my country!"
- Vice President Mike Pence isn’t the first but is the latest to mistakenly claim Thomas Jefferson said, “Government that governs least governs best.” Thomas Jefferson Foundation researchers have debunked the quote before, determining that while it’s in line with his beliefs, he never said it.
- CNN’s poll finds the most popular member of the Trump family in the White House is first lady Melania, with a favorable/unfavorable rating of 44%/35%. Daughter Ivanka breaks even at 41%/41%, while her husband Jared Kushner is least liked, at 20%/39%.