Scions of perilous times
President Donald Trump said he has “no idea” whether Kim Jong Un is “sane.” But with no letup in the tension over his nuclear stare down with the North Korea leader, perhaps Trump figures a touch of flattery can’t hurt.
Though Trump didn’t say so outright, they have something in common: Each took his father’s business. For Trump, it was real estate; for Kim, a totalitarian regime hell-bent on becoming a nuclear power that starved its people for years.
“At a very young age , he was able to assume power,” Trump said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle [executed as a traitor in 2013] or anybody else.”
“And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie,” Trump said.
Such empathy aside, Trump said the nuclear threat must be met. “We cannot let what’s been going on for a long period of years continue,” he told CBS. And the perils, he said, justified a softened trade stance with China in return for its help.
“Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.” For a full transcript of Trump’s interview, click here. For video, click here.
Invitation to a strongman
Trump caught the State Department off guard when he invited President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines to visit the White House, The New York Times reported.
The White House said Trump and Duterte had a “very friendly” phone call Saturday and “discussed the fact that the Philippines is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs.” Under Duterte, death squads have shot down thousands of accused users and dealers without trial.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week” that the bigger reason for the outreach is North Korea.
“It doesn’t mean that human rights don’t matter, but what it does mean is that the issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get,” Priebus said.
Wall hits a wall in stopgap deal
Negotiators reached agreement on a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown through September. While including the expected increases for military spending and border enforcement, the trillion-dollar measure, to be acted on early this week, leaves out money for the Trump wall and leaves in funds for Planned Parenthood.
His latest health care guarantee
Trump tweeted Sunday that a new health care plan “is on its way” and said in the CBS interview he would guarantee it would provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
Less clear is whether those affected would be spared from higher costs. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Vice President Mike Pence said: “You take people that have pre-existing and costly conditions and put them into a high-risk pool. And you subsidize that so that it is affordable to those individuals.”
A version of the House bill circulated late last week would leave some in that category exposed to higher rates if their coverage had lapsed.
Trump indicated coverage standards in the emerging plan shouldn’t be measured against Obamacare because “Obamacare is dead.”
The take-away: No. 1 with a bullet
Of all of those who supported Trump, perhaps none are happier than those aiming to protect gun rights.
Trump put Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court to restore its conservative majority. Given a GOP-run Congress, the president may even get to sign an expansion or two of rights to purchase and carry, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
Russia clouds hover
Trump began his second 100 days, as he did his first 100, as the only president to have entered office while under official investigation into whether he had ties to a foreign adversary, writes Newsday’s Tom Brune.
The scandal over concealed contacts claimed his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and the cast of characters in the probes has expanded. (For a list, click here.) Trump is still pursuing his agenda, but the unresolved Russia connection questions are an impediment, said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
“There is always another shoe, there’s always another story, and that does over time impact the ability for us and the president to govern,” McCain said, even if Trump’s constituents care more about the economy and jobs.
Report: Gorka on way out
White House aide Sebastian Gorka will be moved to another part of the administration, the Washington Examiner reported.
The London-born former Breitbart editor has been a lightning rod over alleged ties to a far-right political group in Hungary — his ancestral homeland — that collaborated with Nazis during World War II.
His credentials as an expert on Islamic extremism have also been questioned, but that will be a focus of his next job, the report said. The Daily Beast said the White House wanted a position for him that doesn’t require a security clearance.
What else is happening
- Trump’s new executive order to review federal regulations on K-12 schools doesn’t give his education secretary powers she didn’t already have. But by calling for a review and report in 300 days, it could set the stage for a set of proposed changes next year, writes Newsday’s Yancey Roy.
- How do Long Islanders assess Trump’s first 100 days? Newsday’s Edward B. Colby reports on highlights from our interviews.
- The Democrats who dominate New York City government — the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate and the City Council — have made resistance to Trump a big part of their agenda, reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa.
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said “the worst part” of Trump’s tax plan is the proposed elimination of state and local tax deductions — “a dagger aimed at the heart of middle-class folks throughout New York State” — Figueroa reports.
- Pope Francis said he is ready to receive Trump when the president visits Europe late this month, but that he isn’t aware of any request from Washington for a meeting.
- Trump’s tweets are generating two-thirds less user engagement — meaning likes, replies or retweets — than when he took office, according to a study conducted by the digital agency Huge Inc. and reported by CBS News.