Summit and substance
That Singapore moment — leaders of the United States and North Korea meeting for the first time — came off in the wee hours Tuesday, New York time. President Donald Trump and dictator Kim Jong Un signed a brief and very general document.
This one-page piece says both sides “commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.”
The pair also said they’d work “toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The United States commits to “security guarantees” for the North. It is unclear what all that might mean specifically if and when meetings continue.
For now, Kim has gotten Trump to suspend joint military excercises with South Korea.
As part of the exhibition, Trump said the dictator he once called “Little Rocket Man” has a “great personality” and is “very smart. Good combination.” Trump said he learned Kim is “a very talented man” who “loves his country very much.”
Kim left for home first, while Trump lingered in Singapore.
The touchy-feely part
Trump’s advance forecast for his meeting with Kim sounded like a tale from the annals of speed dating.
How long would it take to know if Kim was serious about denuclearization?
“I think within the first minute, I’ll know.”
How? “Just my touch, my feel.”
The two were to first meet one on one, with only their translators. Afterward, there was to be a larger meeting and a working lunch attended by top advisers to the president and their North Korean counterparts.
Trump’s day on Twitter began at 5:27 a.m. Tuesday local time. “Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly. ... We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!”
A follow-up tweet went after “the haters & losers” who say he’s given up too much to Kim already by agreeing to the meeting. “ ... these pundits, who have called me wrong from the beginning, have nothing else they can say! We will be fine!” he said.
Here’s one thing Kim got early because of the summit — he was cheered like a rock star by onlookers as he went on a sightseeing tour of Singapore’s waterfront Monday night.
He gets that kind of reception in his home country, too, but there his totalitarian rule keeps people on his side. His regime has 120,000 people in political prison camps, according to Amnesty International, and perceived threats to his regime have been killed, including an uncle and half-brother.
Trump told Congress in his State of the Union address in January that “no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.” But human rights were a back-burner issue for the summit.
Janison: Ally oops
Take it as instructional.
As Trump was leaving the weekend G-7 summit in Quebec, he rated his relationship with the allied leaders there as a “10.” So what if he was raging at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau within hours as ”very dishonest & weak,” and his trade adviser Peter Navarro said there’s a “special place in hell” for the Canadian.
Trump got what he wanted from the meetings — drawing attention to himself, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison. Following a now-familiar script, he sowed chaos, avoided sweating the details and made stuff up.
Too hot under the collar?
Navarro’s call for Trudeau’s damnation seemed to be in Trumpian spirit. But even a top White House official wouldn’t give it an amen.
“I think that those are words that I would not have chosen,” legislative director Marc Short said on CNN.
“ ... I think that the Judgment Day that separates us from heaven or hell is not dependent upon whether you agree with the president or not, so I do not think that it is the official position,” said Short, a devout Christian with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said of Navarro: “I think he should’ve kept his big mouth shut.”
Shelter in another place
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says migrants who say they are fleeing domestic and gang violence generally will no longer qualify for asylum. The ruling could affect thousands who seek shelter in the United States.
“The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim,” Sessions wrote.
He overturned a ruling by the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals in favor of a Salvadoran woman who was raped and abused by her husband.
Obama’s 2020 visions
Former President Barack Obama has met in recent months with at least nine potential contenders for the Democratic nomination to oppose Trump’s re-election in 2020, according to Politico.
Obama has taken the role of sounding board and counselor, discussing what the party should be focused on and what would district from their message.
CNN said Obama has met with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); former Vice President Joe Biden; former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Peter Buttigieg; former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander; and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
What else is happening
- Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, suffered a heart attack Monday and was being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
- New financial disclosure forms show Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, brought in at least $82 million in outside income while they served as senior White House advisers last year, The Washington Post reported.
- Eric Trump cut the ribbon on a new clubhouse at the Trump Golf Links in the Bronx Monday. Revenue at the city-owned course in the shadow of the Whitestone Bridge fell 7 percent last year, The Associated Press reported. One player said he likes the course because “It’s not overcrowded.”
- South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford rebuilt his political career after an extramarital affair drove him from the governor’s office. He won a House seat in 2013. But his district may be less forgiving of his high profile as a Trump critic, and he faces a tough primary Tuesday.
- The FBI is investigating whether Alexander Torshin, a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin, illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Trump in 2016, McClatchy’s Washington bureau reports.
- Trump has told French President Emmanuel Macron — another antagonist at the G-7 summit — that the European Union is worse than China on trade, CNN reported.
- The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on three Russian individuals and five companies, saying they had worked with Moscow’s military and intelligence services on ways to conduct cyberattacks against the United States and its allies, Reuters reported.