The date’s off, for now
It reads like a sad breakup letter, aside from the nuclear threat. The White House said Donald Trump wrote every word.
“I was very much looking forward to being there with you,” Trump told North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, canceling a June 12 summit in Singapore. But recent words from Pyongyang showed “tremendous anger and open hostility.” (A North Korean official said America’s choices are talks or a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”)
Trump reminded Kim of the U.S. nuclear might, “so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.” But the president left a door open: “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”
Public sniping had grown worse in recent weeks, with Pyongyang taking comments from Washington on possible summit outcomes as provocations. North Korean officials called Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” and National Security Adviser John Bolton repugnant.
There was trouble behind the scenes, too, U.S. officials said: North Korea had stopped cooperating on preparations.
Just a normal bump on a difficult diplomatic road? Not exactly. Ally South Korea got no warning about Trump’s decision.
Spygate? How about lie-gate?
It looks like nothing is going to stop Trump from claiming, as he did on Twitter Thursday, that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “admitted that there was Spying in my campaign.” Not even the inconvenient fact that Trump’s account is fiction.
Asked on ABC’s “The View” Tuesday whether the FBI spied on Trump’s campaign, Clapper responded:
“No, they were not. They were spying on — a term I don’t particularly like — but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand, were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence, which is what they do.”
“It’s not spy-gate, only lie-gate,” tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee.
Checking the classifieds
Intelligence and Justice Department officials gave two classified briefings — one to a pair of House Republicans only, the other to a bipartisan group from Congress — about the confidential FBI informant who sought to glean intelligence about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The four Democrats briefed said they had heard no evidence to support the allegation that the FBI planted a spy in the Trump campaign. Republicans who attended declined to characterize what they heard, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News he had learned “nothing particularly surprising. See Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.
Janison: Trump’s GOPersecutors
Several of Trump’s designated villains in the Democratic “witch hunt” against him are fellow Republicans, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
Mueller was widely hailed as a conservative Republican in 2001 when President George W. Bush appointed him FBI director. Fired FBI Director James Comey was a Republican most of his adult life and donated to the 2008 and 2012 GOP presidential campaigns.
Also a Republican: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose nomination to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was blocked by Democratic senators a decade ago.
Trump on NFL: Stand or scram
The NFL’s new national anthem policy — that players must either stand or stay in the locker room — didn’t completely satisfy Trump, the top critic of players who have knelt in protests. He suggested they don’t belong in this country.
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing. You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said in a “Fox & Friends” interview aired Thursday, reports Newsday’s Figueroa.
Trump has denounced the players’ actions as disrespect to the flag and the military, never acknowledging the reason given by participants — to call attention to racial injustice.
A life that mattered
Ironically, Trump acted Thursday to right a racial wrong — not of this era, but from more than a century ago.
He granted a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, convicted in 1913 and imprisoned on a federal morals charge because of his relationship with a white girlfriend, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune.
Johnson was “really treated unfairly as a human being” in a time of “tremendous racial tensions,” Trump said.
For the president, who has sought to undo much of what Barack Obama did, the pardon was a chance to do what his predecessor didn’t. “That was very disappointing for a lot of people,” Trump said.
No process is due, he says
Also on “Fox & Friends,” Trump questioned the need for having judges sort out immigration claims.
“Whoever heard of a system where you put people through trials? . . . We’re going to change the system,” Trump said.
A sharp increase in deportation arrests along the Southern border under Trump has pushed the backlog of immigration cases above 650,000.
He said the United States had “the worst immigration laws in the entire world by far” and that he wanted a comprehensive deal that included all of his priorities, including a wall.
What else is happening
- Rudy Giuliani told Politico that Trump’s cancellation of next month’s North Korea summit means he’ll have more time to decide in coming weeks whether to agree to an interview with Mueller.
- When Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, casts Twitter shade at Trump, it’s not passive-aggressive domestic squabbling, Politico reports. His intended audience is fellow conservative lawyers in the Federalist Society, who give Trump a pass on thumbing his nose at legal norms.
- Emails from Trump’s outside adviser and dirty trickster Roger Stone show he asked a go-between to seek emails from WikiLeaks he hoped would be damaging to Hillary Clinton, The Wall Street Journal reports. Stone did not disclose the contact to congressional investigators.
- Trump awarded a Medal of Honor to a Navy SEAL, retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski, who led a daring assault and rescue mission on a snowy Afghanistan mountaintop in 2002.
- With the stumbling China trade talks as the latest example, Republicans fret over Trump’s penchant for over-promising — setting bold policy bars he doesn’t achieve, Roll Call reports. But some see a silver lining — bad ideas that don’t get done either.
- What can get someone blocked from Trump’s Twitter feed? Examples found by The New York Times include a Virginia schoolteacher who called out the president for plugging his Bedminister, New Jersey, golf course on his account.