But Trump finds it funny
Long Island Rep. Peter King is neither a never-Trump Republican nor an always-Trump one. He has stood with Trump on much that matters most to the president, such as the demand to investigate the origins of the Russia probe and the White House's resistance to "partisan Congressional intrusion" by House Democrats.
But King found Trump's behavior during his Memorial Day weekend visit to Japan indefensible.
"Wrong for @POTUS Trump to criticize @JoeBiden in Japan and to agree with Kim Jong-un," King tweeted. "Politics stops at water’s edge. Never right to side with murderous dictator vs. fellow American."
Biden's campaign on Tuesday issued a response, which it said it had delayed out of respect for the holiday that honors America's war dead. “To be on foreign soil, on Memorial Day, and to side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former vice president speaks for itself,” said Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield.
Bedingfield lambasted Trump's remarks as “part of a pattern of embracing autocrats at the expense of our institutions — whether taking [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s word at face value in Helsinki or exchanging 'love letters' with Kim Jong Un.”
But the shame-proof president remained pleased and amused with himself. Back in Washington, he tweeted Tuesday afternoon: "I was actually sticking up for Sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil. Kim Jong Un called him a 'low IQ idiot,' and many other things, whereas I related the quote of Chairman Kim as a much softer 'low IQ individual.' Who could possibly be upset with that?"
Perhaps the fact-checkers, who would note that the North Korean insult translated as a "fool of low IQ." That could well have been inspired by a Trump tweet from March ridiculing Biden as "another low I.Q. individual."
It was a topsy-turvy time in Tokyo for Trump, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. Tag-teaming in Biden-bashing with Kim took their buddy-buddy act to a new level. Showing the back of his hand to the national security adviser, John Bolton, was another norm-shattering spectacle.
Heads also spun at "Exorcist" speed over his attack from abroad on Biden for supporting the 1994 crime bill, a ploy aimed at getting African-American voters to turn against the Democrat. As if no one would remember Trump's call during that era to execute the five defendants who were ultimately cleared in the Central Park jogger case.
It was a peculiar place for Trump to go just 10 days after his surrogate, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, extolled the crime bill, tweeting "it helped me and the NYPD reduce murder from 1,900 a year to 500 and then under Mayor Bloomberg to 350."
Will Trump let the dog out?
With his role ripping special counsel Robert Mueller mostly in the rearview mirror, Giuliani aspires to be Trump's lead attack dog for the 2020 campaign, Politico reports. He also wants a role in policy development, which might mean having to get on the same page on matters like crime bills.
“We’ll see where they have holes and where they need help,” Giuliani said. “I’m available to do a lot of it.”
Unleashing Giuliani carries risks. Politico notes Trump and some of his top aides have occasionally cringed at the lawyer’s frequently off-script messaging and rambling TV appearances.
Remains not to be seen
One reason Trump gave in Tokyo for insisting "a lot of good things are happening" with North Korea is that the U.S. is "continuing to get the remains" of American troops killed during the Korean War.
The military news site Defense One points out that's not true: The Pentagon suspended the effort May 8 because North Korea stopped cooperating after the failed Hanoi summit.
More money than love for de Blasio
The New York Times dialed donors who have contributed to $458,000 to his federal political action committee. Of the 35 who stayed on the phone long enough to be asked, only five said they actually supported his presidential campaign.
Others said they liked his record as mayor, figured the contribution would get them a chance to talk the mayor, or gave money because someone else asked them to. Media mogul Barry Diller, who gave $5,000, said de Blasio helped with a project he is building on Manhattan's West Side, but “I’m certainly not a supporter of him running for president."
Meanwhile, during a City Hall event Tuesday, venerable feminist activist Gloria Steinem said, "Mayor de Blasio is among my top four choices for president and the only male human being who is on that list." After the first time she said it, de Blasio asked Steinem to get closer to the news microphones and repeat it, according to the Daily News.
Rush to a justice
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court in 2016, saying voters should decide whether a Democrat or Republican should fill the vacancy.
McConnell was asked Tuesday at a Kentucky business group's luncheon: What if a justice dies in 2020 and Trump, running for re-election, wants the Senate to confirm a replacement?
"Oh, we'd fill it," McConnell said.
What else is happening:
- Trump warned Wednesday against another GOP Senate nomination for the controversial Roy Moore in Alabama, who was defeated by Democrat Doug Jones for the seat Jeff Sessions vacated when he became attorney general.
- The Navy says it is reviewing whether service members violated Defense Department policy or regulations by wearing a uniform patch with Trump's likeness and the words “Make Aircrew Great Again” during the president visit to their ship in Japan.
- Acting Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is moving to speed up pro-business rulemaking at the Department of Labor, Bloomberg News reports. Among his aims is to weaken a proposed regulation from the Obama era and reduce by about 75%, or 3 million, the number of workers who would have been newly eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay.
- Elizabeth Warren has been inching up in the polls, getting voters' attention with a steady stream of progressive policy proposals, The New York Times reports. But she still faces doubts from Democratic voters unsure about her electability against Trump in 2020.
- Biden on Tuesday unveiled an education plan that calls for increasing teacher pay, making preschool universal and boosting investments in school support services like mental health.
- Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, the lone Republican in Congress calling for Trump's impeachment, charged Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented" Mueller's findings and "used his position to sell the president's false narrative to the American people.”
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