IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump lashes out at allies, praises North Korea

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as he departs from Dallas, Texas
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as he departs from Dallas, Texas, on May 31, 2018.Joshua Roberts / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Call it the Tale of Two Summits. President Donald Trump today heads to Canada for the G-7 meeting, where he’ll get a frosty reception from the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada, who are upset with the president’s tariffs — as well as his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord.

Then tomorrow — after cutting his trip to the G-7 short — Trump heads to Singapore to begin preparations for that North Korea summit on June 12.

And from his tweets and public comments, you can tell which gathering Trump finds more appealing. He’s lashing out at allies like Canada and France.

“Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow,” Trump tweeted last night.

“Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things...but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!” he added.

(Never mind that Canada is the top market for U.S. agricultural exports.)

On the other hand, Trump is praising North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, whose fav/unfav score in the new NBC/WSJ poll is 3 percent positive/72 percent negative. “I really believe that Kim Jong Un wants to do something. I think he wants to see something incredible happen for the people of North Korea,” the president said yesterday.

“I believe we’re going to have a terrific success or a modified success,” he added about the summit. “But I really believe that we have the potential to do something incredible for the world. And it’s my honor to be involved.”

Trump: “I don’t think I have to prepare very much [for the summit]. It’s about attitude”

Also yesterday, Trump said this about next week’s summit with North Korea: "I think I'm very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done… This isn’t a question of preparation; it’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen.”

Iowa is the canary in the coal mine on Trump’s trade war

On “MTP Daily” yesterday, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa — hardly an outspoken critic of Trump — questioned the president’s tariffs and trade policies. Asked if Trump has been good for Iowa farmers, Ernst answered:

“My message has always been, to the president that, if you are putting trade and tariffs out there, then you have to come up with a means of opening up other markets for our farmers and ranchers. He needs to do that right away, and [U.S. Trade Representative Robert] Lighthizer, when I questioned him after the meeting yesterday, he said they are working on additional markets for our agricultural products. It's important that we do that, because if we are temporarily closing down some of these really important markets, we need to see other doors open.”

That isn’t a happy senator from Iowa, whose gubernatorial race this fall between incumbent Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell could be a canary in the coal mine on the political repercussions of Trump’s trade battles in farm country.

Remember, Iowa has typically been a good indicator of the country’s mood. At the end of the Bush Era, it was open to Barack Obama’s “Hope and Change” message. At the end of the Obama Era, it turned against Hillary Clinton (she lost the state by 9 percentage points). And the gubernatorial race could shed some light on how Trump’s tariff policies are playing out in rural America.

Trump administration: Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional

A day after our NBC/WSJ poll showed that health care was the top issue heading into the midterms —and one that especially fires up Democrats — comes this news.

The New York Times: “The Trump administration told a federal court on Thursday that it would no longer defend crucial provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions. Under those provisions of the law, insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions. The Justice Department said the provisions were part of an unconstitutional scheme that required most Americans to carry health insurance.”

More: “A definitive court ruling could be months away and appeals of any decision could take many more months, during which the law is likely to stay in effect. The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in 2012 as an exercise of the government’s power to tax. But since Congress repealed the tax last year, the mandate and the law’s consumer protections can no longer be justified, the Justice Department said. The mandate cannot be interpreted as a tax ‘because it will raise no revenue as Congress has eliminated the monetary penalty,’ the department said in a brief filed in the Federal District Court in Fort Worth.”

Dems – more than GOP – say country would be better off with more elected women

Finally, don’t miss this additional story from our new NBC/WSJ poll: “Among registered voters of all political stripes, two-thirds (67 percent) say that the country would be better off if more women were elected to political office, while just a quarter of voters (24 percent) disagree. But it's among Democrats that the pro-female candidate sentiment is most overwhelming. Nearly nine-in-10 Democrats (87 percent) say the country would be better off with more women in office, while 10 percent disagree,” one of us writes.

“Yet among Republicans, just 49 percent say the country would be better off with more women in office, while 38 percent say they disagree with that statement.”