No worries, he’s got this
In Donald Trump’s thinking, he’s been ready to wheel and deal on a nuclear level for a long time.
Way back in 1984, offering his “ability to negotiate” to the Ronald Reagan administration for arms talks with the Soviet Union, Trump said, “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles. ... I think I know most of it anyway.”
He didn’t get called on then, but next Tuesday, in Singapore, Trump will be face to face with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
“I think I’m very well prepared,” the president said. “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about the attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done.”
Though Trump seemed to be corroborating his reputation for lax study habits, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Thursday that he has held in-depth daily briefings with Trump over the past few months and was “very confident the president will be fully prepared.”
One thing Trump said that he gets — it’s not likely he’ll leave Singapore with an agreement all wrapped up.
“I think it’s a process. ... I think it’s not a one-meeting deal. It would be wonderful if it were,” Trump said. See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Rudy Giuliani may be Trump’s point man with special counsel Robert Mueller, but on other matters, the hints from the White House Thursday were as broad as a boulevard: Butt out.
Pompeo, from the briefing room, waved off Giuliani’s diplo-gaffe that Kim “got back on his hands and knees and begged” to keep the summit date. “Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation and this set of issues,” Pompeo said.
Even colder was the reaction from Melania Trump’s office to Giuliani’s presumption to speak for her. The former mayor said the president’s wife doesn’t believe Stormy Daniels’ story about a sex romp with Trump.
“I don’t believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani,” said Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director.
Revolt on ‘dreamers’ simmers
Defying Trump’s wishes and their party’s conservatives, a group of moderate House Republicans have nearly enough support to force a vote on a bill to provide a path to citizenship for young “Dreamer” immigrants, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune.
The GOP members reached no resolution on their internal divisions over immigration in a closed-door meeting Thursday, though leaders made a promise to draft a compromise immigration bill in the weeks ahead.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), a leader of the moderates, said they have set a deadline of next Tuesday to either have an agreement or move ahead on their own. If the latter, they would join with Democrats to move a bill to the floor.
Janison: GOP vs. GOP vs. Trump
Gridlock used to be a two-party affair. But the Democratic minority has little to do with internal fissures that have Republicans in Congress tying themselves in knots and in conflict with Trump on several fronts, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
It’s not just the immigration fight. Some free-trade Republicans are pushing legislation to rein in Trump’s power to impose tariffs. Trump’s “Spygate” conspiracy theory also has caused divisions, with some leading GOP officials labeling it unfounded.
The last time they met, on Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington in April, the French and U.S. presidents exchanged kisses on the cheek. Now they seem more inclined to tell each other to kiss off as the brewing trade war sours the G-7 summit that begins Friday in Canada.
Macron tweeted: “The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”
Trump tweeted back that Macron and the summit’s host — Canada’s Justin Trudeau — “are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers.” He added, “Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”
So who’s bringing the Tic Tacs?
On Pruitt, here’s the rub
If it’s a day ending in a “y,” chances are there’s a new wrinkle in the Scott Pruitt ethics epic. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the EPA chief had his security detail take him to multiple Ritz-Carlton hotels in search of a favorite moisturizing lotion, and also sent agents to pick up his dry cleaning.
Late Wednesday, Politico reported Pruitt was chided by West Wing officials for eating too often at the White House mess. This week also brought stories about Pruitt enlisting an aide to try to buy a used mattress from Trump’s Washington hotel and personally pitching Chick-fil-A about getting a franchise for his wife.
There’s still no sign that Trump — pleased with Pruitt’s regulation rollbacks — will show him the door. But Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy became the latest Republican openly disturbed by Pruitt’s behavior.
“He is acting like a moron and he needs to stop it.” Kennedy said on CNN.
What else is happening
- Trump’s approval rating has climbed to 44% in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The same percentage credits him for an improving economy. But that may not help Republicans in the midterm elections, where Democrats hold a 10-point edge and are generating stronger voter enthusiasm.
- The Justice Department inspector general’s report on how the FBI handled the Clinton email case is expected to be out next Thursday. Among those hotly anticipating the findings is Trump, who hopes it will help him muddy the reputation of the bureau’s former director James Comey.
- Trump’s gibe about the Canadians burning the White House in the War of 1812 wasn’t the administration’s only historical misfire. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, a Fox News alum, cited the D-Day invasion as an example of America’s “very strong relationship” with Germany.
- Fox News host Jeanine Pirro has been telling Trump aides and advisers that she should replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Politico reported. An ex-official said Trump dangled the idea of nominating her to a federal judgeship, but it was more likely flattery than a serious offer.
- As Trump wished, the Commerce Department has made a deal to help China’s telecom giant ZTE stay in business with U.S. suppliers. Congressional critics from both parties say it won’t protect the U.S. from cybersecurity threats.
- A group of Democratic lawmakers asked the National Counterintelligence and Security Center to look at whether Trump’s cellphone habits risk exposing classified information to foreign spies.