WASHINGTON — Despite all of the chaos, controversy and questions about competency over the last 15 months of the Trump Era, this is a remarkable development and beginning to the upcoming U.S.-North Korea talks.
The question is whether it will last.
NBC News: “The leaders of North and South Korea signed a declaration Friday stating there would be ‘no more war’ between the neighbors and agreeing to the common goal of ‘complete denuclearization’ on the Korean Peninsula.”
“The countries, which technically remain in a state of war, heralded the deal as part of ‘a new era of peace’ after a historic summit. The agreement between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in also included vows to ‘cease all hostile acts’ and to ‘transform the Demilitarized Zone into a peace zone.’”
Speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe, however, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas says it’s “too soon to take out the champagne,” per our colleague Shirley Zilberstein:
“All the positives are potentially true. What we don’t know, though, is exactly what is motivating Kim Jong-Un, and let me give you two different scenarios. One is he’s been forced by the sanctions by China, by his internal problems, to essentially accept the fact that he needs a different relationship with his neighbor to the south and the United States and the world. The other is that the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests have reached a point of sufficiency for him, where now he feels confident enough and secure enough to make agreements with, including the end of war, because he feels that North Korea now has a secure future.”
And as we’ve pointed out before, Korean peace and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal are potentially intertwined. At 1:50 pm ET, Trump holds a joint news conference with German Chancellor Merkel, who supports the Iran deal, while Defense Secretary Mattis is defending the Iran deal.
Ouster of House chaplain shows just how bad our current politics are right now
So how bad is the current state of American politics? Well, don’t be surprised if this story soon makes the Top 5 of Google searches on the subject:
“House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) dismissed the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy this month as chaplain of the chamber, an unusual decision that angered some of the Jesuit priest’s allies in Congress,” the Washington Post writes. “During Thursday evening votes, after news broke of Conroy’s dismissal, lawmakers in both parties voiced concern, particularly Catholics. ‘Well, I still don’t understand why he was asked to leave,’ said Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-N.J.), citing several possible reasons that might placate his anger at the decision. ‘I have gotten to know him pretty well and I didn’t understand it.’”
“Sensitivities began to escalate as lawmakers talked about the type of replacement needed for Conroy. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), part of the group searching for the next chaplain, suggested someone ‘that has adult children, that kind of can connect with the bulk’ of lawmakers and the problems they face with children who ‘made some bad decisions’ or a spouse upset about the legislative schedule.”
NYT: “Trump has burned through a record number of advisers and associates who have found themselves in … trouble”
After Ronny Jackson’s withdrawal to be Trump’s VA secretary, the New York Times writes that those who fall into Trump’s orbit often crash and burn. “A ride on President Trump’s bullet train can be thrilling, but it is often a brutal journey that leaves some bloodied by the side of the tracks. In only 15 months in office, Mr. Trump has burned through a record number of advisers and associates who have found themselves in legal, professional or personal trouble, or even all three.”
“Proximity to Mr. Trump has been a crushing experience for many who arrived with stellar careers and independent reputations yet ended up losing so much. Rex W. Tillerson ran the world’s largest energy company. David Shulkin was a respected doctor and a “high priest” of the medical world. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster was an admired warrior. So was John F. Kelly. Jeff Sessions held a safe seat in Congress. So did Tom Price. Now all of them are known for unhappy associations with Mr. Trump.”
Trump vs. Tester
Meanwhile, President Trump is coming after Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., over the Democrat’s public campaign versus Ronny Jackson, according to Politico. “The president is enraged over Tester’s work documenting allegations of malfeasance by Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, which quickly unraveled Jackson’s nomination to be VA secretary and marks a turning point in the relationship between the moderate Democrat and Trump.”
“As Tester’s reelection campaign kicks into high gear, Trump is more motivated than ever to campaign against him in the ruby-red state — accusing the senator of irresponsibly leaking the damaging information to undermine the president's nominee.”
A majority of Republican voters view the news media as the enemy of the people, per Quinnipiac poll
As many journalists and political operatives get their tuxedos and ballroom dresses ready for the annual White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night, there’s some good news from this Quinnipiac poll: By a 3-to-1 margin, more voters see the news media as an important part of democracy (66 percent), versus an enemy to the people (22 percent).
But here’s the bad news: A majority of Republicans — 51 percent — see the news media as the enemy of the people, compared with 37 percent of them who view the media as an important part of democracy. By contrast, overwhelming majorities of Democrats (91 percent) and independents (70 percent) see the media as an important part of democracy.
Those findings might make a good question for White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who will attend Saturday night’s dinner), as well as President Trump (who won’t as he holds a counter-programming event in Michigan).
By the way, the same Quinnipiac poll finds more voters trusting the news media (53 percent) than President Trump (37 percent).
Poll: 60 percent of black voters believe the NFL colluded to silence Colin Kaepernick
And given the revealing New York Times transcript of NFL owners and players discussing Trump and Colin Kaepernick, a poll conducted by Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher and commissioned by BlackPAC finds 60 percent of African-American voters in eight battleground states believe the NFL colluded to silence Kaepernick’s protests, and 35 percent of them say they’ve watched less football as a response.