Can’t end on a cliffhanger
“There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” tweeted Donald Trump.
The president is jumping the gun here, if not yet the shark. Kim Jong Un hasn’t given up any nukes or missiles. Much work remains to put the meat and flesh and bones on Kim’s agreement to seek an agreement on a denuclearization deal.
There’s a target time frame for getting “major disarmament” done, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — around the end of Trump’s term. That would also be around the time of the 2020 election, when Trump seeks a second term.
“We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in the 2-1/2 years,” Pompeo said.
Besides those negotiations and their likely ups and downs, other dramatic episodes may be in the offing before a finale. North Korea’s state media said Trump and Kim invited each other to visit the United States and North Korea, respectively, and both accepted.
As of now, the series lacks an obvious villain, since Trump has hailed murderous dictator Kim as a “very talented” leader who “loves” and is loved by his people. But Trump has other contenders for the role — those in the media who “downplay the deal” (which means they reported on its incompleteness).
“Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!” Trump tweeted.
For more, see Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Can’t unblow that horn
Has Trump forgotten his own advice? He sent this tweet in November 2013:
“The reason great dealmakers do not OPENLY celebrate a deal, especially one that is not complete, is that it shows weakness to the other side.”
He was talking about John Kerry, President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, “openly celebrating the tenuous nuclear deal with Iran.”
What’s the harm of Trump’s triumphalism in declaring the nuclear threat over? Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, worries via Twitter that “overselling the summit makes it harder to keep sanctions in place, further reducing pressure on NK to reduce (much less give up) its nuclear weapons and missiles.”
He’s special but nothing special
In a Fox News interview aired Wednesday, Trump again spoke understandingly of Kim’s ruthless rule. “He’s a tough guy,” Trump said, and had to be because “1 in 10,000” could do what the North Korean dictator did when he took power at age 27.
Trump rejected the idea that Kim’s brutality stood out as among the world’s worst. Told “he has done some really bad things,” Trump replied, “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”
Janison: Mercer firm’s footprints
Cambridge Analytica was taken into Chapter 7 bankruptcy by Long Island’s Mercer family, but new details keep emerging about the data firm’s global doings at the intersection of technology and right-wing messaging beyond its 2016 work for Trump, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
According to The New York Times, the United Arab Emirates also hired its parent company to conduct a social media campaign against rival Qatar. Congress is looking into a visit by a Cambridge director to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
An ex-employee turned whistleblower said Cambridge’s work helped win the narrow passage of Britain’s Brexit referendum.
The fix he’s in
Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, is parting ways with his new legal team and seeking new counsel to represent him as he faces the possibility of criminal charges from an FBI investigation of his business dealings.
ABC News reported Cohen is now likely to cooperate with prosecutors, a worrisome development for Trump. But other reports said there have been no such discussions and the change in lawyers is in part spurred by fee disputes.
Pruitt: Take my wife, please
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt last year had a top aide help contact Republican donors who might offer his wife a job, The Washington Post reported. She eventually got a position with a conservative political group.
The latest story of Pruitt seeking to use his office to seek personal benefit has more conservative voices calling for his ouster, which Trump has resisted, according to Politico.
What else is happening
- Former Nassau GOP leader Joseph Mondello told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that if confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, he would try to boost regional democracy and seek to reduce a surprisingly high rate of ISIS recruiting in the islands, Newsday’s Tom Brune reports.
- Retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said the Senate GOP leadership’s reluctance to defend core Republican issues with Trump puts the party in “a cultlike situation as it relates to a President that happens to be of — purportedly — of the same party.”
- Since the Roy Moore debacle, Trump has generally sided with Senate GOP leaders who don’t want fringe, tough-to-elect candidates. But Trump hailed the GOP primary win in Virginia of Corey Stewart, who has been cozy with white nationalists and got fired from Trump’s 2016 campaign for leading a rally against the party’s national committee.
- Also in Tuesday’s primaries, a Republican critic of Trump, Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, lost his bid for re-election. Trump tweeted an endorsement of his opponent from Air Force One less than three hours before the polls closed.
- A former wine blogger now working as a senior State Department adviser is clicking through the social media pages of career employees there, searching for hints of disloyalty to Trump, reports Foreign Policy magazine.
- Trump ordered a promotion months ago for Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew, a junior staffer, but chief of staff John Kelly didn’t follow through, and Andrew has now lost his West Wing pass, Axios reported.
- Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, was discharged from the hospital Wednesday, two days after suffering what was described by the White House as a mild heart attack.