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North Korean rhetoric heads south as Trump openly slaps down Bolton

Pentagon underscores Kim as a nuclear and cyberware threat

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, and South

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, and South Korea President Moon Jae-in, seen here on April 27 during their summit in Panmunjom. Photo Credit: AFP / KCNA via KNS

From ‘No-bel!’ to not swell

North Korea’s threat to cancel a June 12 summit between President Donald Trump and its leader, Kim Jong Un, is souring the Asian air.

On Thursday, nasty rhetoric from Pyongyang escalated.

Kim’s chief negotiator called the South Korean government “ignorant and incompetent,” and denounced its joint combat drills with the U.S., which are due to continue.

A Pentagon assessment recently sent to Capitol Hill described North Korea as staking its survival on nuclear weapons development.

North Korea’s “increasingly sophisticated cyber warfare capabilities” are “capable of damaging and disruptive cyberattacks,” the report said, according to Bloomberg News.

Supporters’ chants of “Nobel, Nobel” for Trump at a recent rally in Michigan, and similar compliments from South Korea and Japan, feel like a fading memory. For the moment, at least.

Boltin’ away from Libya ‘model’

National Security Adviser John Bolton drew Kim’s fury by saying Sunday his nuclear disarmament should follow the “Libya model” once embraced by Moammar Qaddafi, who was overthrown and killed in a U.S.-backed rebellion.

On Thursday, Trump ran away from that position. During a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House, the president said:

“The Libyan model is not a model that we have at all when we are thinking of North Korea,” Trump said. “In Libya, we decimated that country.” By contrast, Kim would stay in power if he reaches a deal with the U.S.

Trollin’ and a-tumblin’

Trump delivered another “witch hunt” snit on Twitter, apparently after watching a thin commentary on Fox News that offered unsubstantiated suggestions of FBI spies planted in his campaign.

“If so, this is bigger than Watergate!” Trump tweeted. (If not so, presumably it would be smaller than Watergate.)

The occasion for the rant: Mueller’s Russia collusion probe now enters a second year. To mark the anniversary, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani sought to steer the media narrative by saying Mueller’s team concluded they cannot indict a sitting president.

As evidence that Mueller’s probe is far from complete, lawyers this week sparred in court over a Russian troll farm indicted by the special counsel. The arguments centered on charges that 13 Russians and three Russian-based companies used social media to meddle in the 2016 election.

Unbreakable China?

The Chinese were treated so indulgently by past administrations, Trump said, he doubted high-level trade talks with the People’s Republic would be successful.

But China made it clear before that statement it would offer to buy some $200 billion more in American goods. Still, there are structural hurdles to such imports, experts say.

Trump’s pre-emptive blaming for deals not yet achieved extended elsewhere. “The European Union has become very spoiled, other countries have become very spoiled because they’ve always gotten 100 percent of whatever they wanted from the United States,” Trump said.

What else is happening

  • The Koch brothers are working with Democrats on immigration, NPR reports, despite GOP alliances on other matters.
  • Gina Haspel was confirmed, as expected, as the new CIA director.
  • Trump called the European Union “terrible” to the U.S. on trade.
  • The Kremlin may have “used the NRA to secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign,” Senate Democrats claim.
  • L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has his eyes and fundraising prowess set on 2020, Politico reports.
  • A Qatar company is close to helping Jared Kushner’s family out with its financially troubled 666 Fifth Ave. building, the Times reports.
  • The White House communications office canceled its large morning meetings after the Sen. John McCain “joke” blowup.
  • The door of a Cadillac SUV carrying Giuliani and his entourage smacked into a pedicab in midtown Manhattan, hurling the cyclist to the ground. No injuries were reported.

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