WASHINGTON — The June 12 summit between the United States and North Korea won’t be taking place after President Trump announced he was withdrawing due to North Korea’s “open hostility” from its most recent statements. But there is still plenty of motivation — on both sides — for some kind of summit to still occur. It just won’t be happening on June 12.
For one thing, Trump really wants this meeting; it’s the one storyline that can overshadow developments in the Russia probe. And the previous progress had given his base something to cheer. (Remember those “Nobel” chants?)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants it, too, per NBC’s reporting. “Several administration officials said Pompeo, who has taken the lead in negotiating with the North Koreans, blamed Bolton for torpedoing the progress that had already been made. Pompeo flew to Pyongyang twice, met personally with Kim and helped secure the release of three Americans who had been held there. Bolton, a longtime national security hawk who has publicly advocated for regime change in North Korea, was integral, these officials said, to convincing Trump to back out of the summit.”
North Korea also wants a meeting, which would raise the country’s stature. As North Korea said in a statement, “We are making it clear that we are willing to sit down any time and in any way to solve the problem.”
And China wants a meeting — just with a seat at the table. "Clearly China wants to position themselves to be a driver in this process," said retired U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis, per NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. "They encouraged Kim Jong Un to step back from the summit."
So there’s enough motivation for a meeting to take place in the future. The main problem, however, is over the substance of the talks: How do you ask for denuclearization for a country that sees those nuclear weapons as essential to its survival?
How “Art of the Deal” has failed — for now — with North Korea
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The New York Times’ David Sanger: “Mr. Trump approached Mr. Kim, the North Korean leader, as if he were a competing property developer haggling over a prized asset — and assumed that, in the end, Mr. Kim would be willing to give it all up for the promise of future prosperity. So he started with threats of ‘fire and fury,’ then turned to surprise initiatives, then gratuitous flattery of one of the world’s more brutal dictators.”
“But it was already becoming clear to Mr. Trump and his team that the techniques involved in negotiating real estate do not translate easily into negotiations over nuclear weapons. Mr. Kim needs money, investment and technology, for sure. But more than that, he needs to convince North Korea’s elites that he has not traded away the only form of security in his sole control — the nuclear patrimony of his father and his grandfather.”
Meanwhile, NBC News reports that Trump, “fearing that the North Koreans might beat him to the punch, wanted to be the one to cancel [the summit] first, multiple officials told NBC News… The decision occurred so abruptly that the administration was unable to give congressional leaders and key allies advance notice and the letter went out while more than two dozen foreign journalists, including several U.S. citizens, were inside North Korea where they had gone to witness a promised dismantling of a nuclear test site.”
Trump continues to say the FBI placed a “spy” in his campaign. But the available evidence doesn’t back that up
President Trump was once again busy on Twitter this morning:
“The Democrats are now alluding to the the concept that having an Informant placed in an opposing party’s campaign is different than having a Spy, as illegal as that may be. But what about an “Informant” who is paid a fortune and who “sets up” way earlier than the Russian Hoax.”
“Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain? And to think that the party in question, even with the expenditure of far more money, LOST!”
But after yesterday’s classified briefings on the matter — where the reporting has been that the FBI had an informant talked to two Trump officials (George Papadopoulos and Carter Page) due to evidence those men had suspicious ties to Russia – Democrats said there was no spying. “Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols,” said House Intel Committee ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
And we've heard no disagreement — so far — from Republicans who attended the briefing. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told NPR in an interview that he continues to support the Mueller Russia investigation — and that nothing in Thursday's hotly anticipated secret briefing on the Russia probe to congressional leaders changed his mind.”
Roger Stone sought Clinton information from Julian Assange
“In a Sept. 18, 2016, message, (longtime Trump political adviser Roger) Stone urged an acquaintance who knew Mr. Assange to ask the WikiLeaks founder for emails related to Mrs. Clinton's alleged role in disrupting a purported Libyan peace deal in 2011 when she was secretary of state, referring to her by her initials,” the Wall Street Journal says. “‘Please ask Assange for any State or HRC e-mail from August 10 to August 30--particularly on August 20, 2011,’ Mr. Stone wrote to Randy Credico, a New York radio personality who had interviewed Mr. Assange several weeks earlier. Mr. Stone, a longtime confidant of Donald Trump, had no formal role in his campaign at the time.”
“Mr. Credico initially responded to Mr. Stone that what he was requesting would be on WikiLeaks' website if it existed, according to an email reviewed by the Journal. Mr. Stone, the emails show, replied: ‘Why do we assume WikiLeaks has released everything they have???’ In another email, Mr. Credico then asked Mr. Stone to give him a ‘little bit of time,’ saying he thought Mr. Assange might appear on his radio show the next day. A few hours later, Mr. Credico wrote: ‘That batch probably coming out in the next drop ... I can't ask them favors every other day. I asked one of his lawyers ... they have major legal headaches right now ... relax.’”
On “Meet the Press” last Sunday, Stone gave a very specific denial when he was asked about whether he had a heads up about John Podesta’s emails. “I had no advance notice of the content, source, or the exact disclosure time of the Wikileaks disclosures. Assange himself has said so.” Focus on those words: I had no advance notice of the content, source, or the exact disclosure time. But did Stone — or anyone else from the Trump orbit — know more generally that emails were going to be released via WikiLeaks?