With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA: The Scout motto is “be prepared,” but Donald Trump is no Boy Scout.
Like so many other times during his unorthodox presidency, Trump plans to go without a script into his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The two will shake hands at 9 p.m. Eastern time Monday night, which is 9 a.m. local time in Singapore on Tuesday morning. After taking a ceremonial walk before the cameras at the Capella Hotel, Trump and Kim are scheduled to sit for one to two hours of private discussions with only their interpreters. Then they’ll be joined by top aides for a more traditional bilateral conversation.
“I have a clear objective, but I have to say: It’s going to be something that will always be spur of the moment,” Trump said Saturday at a news conference in Quebec. “You don’t know. This has not been done before at this level.”
The president told reporters before leaving the G-7 summit that he thinks he will know “within the first minute” whether Kim is serious about making a deal. “Just my touch, my feel — that’s what I do,” he explained. “You know the way they say that you know if you’re going to like somebody in the first five seconds? You ever hear that one? Well, I think that, very quickly, I’ll know whether or not something good is going to happen.”
-- This is part and parcel of Trump’s improvisational approach not just to the presidency but to life: He’s almost always winging it. He seems to even get a rush from making big decisions on the fly.
The phrase “winging it” originated in theater. It came into use during the 19th century to describe an actor who had the capacity to play a role without knowing his lines and who would receive the assistance or prompting of someone from the wing of the stage. This aptly describes our first reality TV president, who thinks of each day as a new episode in a running series and himself as the leading character.
“I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” Trump said Thursday, discussing the summit. “It’s about the attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done.”
Today’s historic meeting came about in the first place because Trump agreed on a whim to sit down with Kim back on March 8, accepting an offer delivered by a South Korean emissary before talking it through with top advisers.
-- Winging it has worked for Trump before. When it hasn’t, he’s been able to bluster his way through whatever problems it creates. He’s president, after all, and you’re not. So, as far as he’s concerned, he must be doing something right. Not to mention, the past three presidents tried and failed with more traditional approaches to curtail Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
He didn’t really prepare for the presidential debates. Hillary Clinton won on points, but Trump got elected.
When filling his Cabinet, the president-elect went with gut instincts — not traditional vetting. One important criteria was whether a potential nominee “looked the part.”
Trump caught the Pentagon off guard when he announced a ban on transgender troops in the military, leaving others to figure out details and fill in the blanks.
He’s often tweeted pronouncements after seeing segments on cable television, such as saying anyone who burns the American flag should be stripped of their citizenship.
He discovered that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem could be a potent wedge issue by noticing how a crowd reacted when he broached the issue during a meandering speech in Alabama.
Trump prides himself in disregarding what’s on teleprompters, sometimes even publicly mocking lines that aides wrote for him. Recently, he was reading remarks at a Susan B. Anthony List gala. After declaring that 2018 was the most important election of his lifetime, Trump cut himself off and said he disagrees — because his name will not be on the ballot. The crowd laughed.
One of Trump’s favorite go-to phrases is: “We’ll see what happens.” It captures his desire to never let himself get boxed in and give him the flexibility to follow his gut.
As John Podhoretz wrote back in 2016, “Trump makes sense once you realize you’re watching improv.”
-- To be sure, winging it has routinely forced aides to walk back Trump’s comments. The president got plaudits for holding wide-ranging conversations in the Roosevelt Room about immigration and guns, but his lack of familiarity with the issues led him to make statements that angered allies and interest groups. On immigration, he said he’d be open to a stand-alone vote to protect the “dreamers.” He floated taking away guns from people without due process — only to walk it back later.
-- The main reason the president’s lawyers don’t want him to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller III’s team of prosecutors is that they don’t think they can get him to prepare sufficiently. That’s why they’ve publicly fretted that winging it will cause Trump to perjure himself.
-- Even Trump admirers worry he’ll make concessions during his tête-à-tête with Kim without understanding the complexities of what he’s agreeing to. Kim has intensively and obsessively prepared, observers assume, as the fate of his dynastic rule is on the line.
-- “The decision by Trump and Kim to begin their Singapore summit without their top advisers or nuclear arms specialists underscores that their real goal here is to develop a personal rapport and stage a global spectacle rather than ink the technical details of a denuclearization accord,” Philip Rucker, Anne Gearan and John Hudson report this morning.
“Both nations have sought to lower expectations for an immediate breakthrough … Trump has described Tuesday’s summit as the first step in what could be a lengthy process, dangling the possibility of inviting Kim to the United States for a second meeting. And in an indication that Kim is like-minded, North Korean state media described a process of normalizing relations with the United States that would unfold over time.
“Trump and Kim’s representatives labored Monday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to find agreement on the substance of an eventual nuclear arms deal. … A key stumbling block in the negotiations has been what comes first. The North Koreans want a firm security guarantee, meaning a promise that the United States will not attack or seek to overthrow Kim. The Americans want a substantive denuclearization pledge. Leading Monday’s talks in Singapore were veteran U.S. diplomat Sung Kim and Choi Sun-Hee, the top North Korean diplomat who deals with the United States. They were still trying to draft a joint statement outlining the areas of agreement for Trump and Kim. Typically such precooked statements, or communiques, are worked out far in advance of summits. …
“Run-up meetings were thin on technical nuclear discussions … and looked almost nothing like the painstaking preparation for arms control summits of the past, including between the United States and the Soviet Union. The U.S. delegation in Singapore does not include high-level expertise in nuclear inspection and verification, although senior U.S. diplomat Sung Kim is a veteran of the last lengthy nuclear arms control effort with North Korea, called the Six-Party Talks.”
-- People who have discussed the issue with Trump said he views negotiating with Kim as if it were another of his real estate deals in New York. “Trump sees some of himself in the authoritarian North Korean: an unorthodox and sometimes feared figure who distrusts the established world order and has a thirst to make history,” Rucker reports. “Advisers say Trump considers Kim a rational actor … Trump is confident that he can negotiate the terms of a deal such that each man can walk away, despite his maximalist demands, with what he wants: for Trump, a promise of peace and denuclearization; for Kim, global legitimacy and prosperity.”
-- National security adviser John Bolton never convened a principal’s committee meeting so that Cabinet secretaries could talk through strategy with each, or Trump, ahead of the summit. “The White House’s summit planning has been unstructured, according to a half-dozen administration officials,” Politico reported last week. “Trump himself has driven the preparation almost exclusively on his own, consulting little with his national security team beyond Secretary of State Mike Pompeo [who lacked Asia experience before joining the Trump administration] … Trump has also not presided personally over a meeting of those senior NSC officials, as a president typically does when making the most important decisions.”
-- Another consequence: Trump winging it exhausts everyone around him. As the president grows increasingly emboldened to act on instinct alone, more West Wing staffers are warily eyeing the exits. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is one of several senior people thinking seriously about how much longer he can stick around, the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers report: “Last week, Mr. Kelly told visiting senators that the White House was ‘a miserable place to work,’ according to a person with direct knowledge of the comment. The turnover, which is expected to become an exodus after the November elections, does not worry the president, several people close to him said. He has grown comfortable with removing any barriers that might challenge him — including, in some cases, people who have the wrong chemistry or too frequently say no to him. Mr. Trump, who desires a measure of chaos at all times, is reveling in the effects of his own mercurial decision-making…”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- “The Band’s Visit” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” won best musical and best play at the 72nd annual Tony Awards. Peter Marks reports: “Winning in a category that included three musicals derived from better-known pop-cultural sources — ‘Frozen,’ ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ — ‘The Band’s Visit’ scooped up a total of 10 awards, including those for best book (Itamar Moses), score, sound, orchestrations, lighting, direction (David Cromer), featured actor (Ari’el Stachel) and actor and actress in a musical (Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk) … ‘Harry Potter,’ meantime, swept the design categories for plays but got no acting recognition, earning six trophies as it won for direction, set, sound, costumes and lighting.” Here is the full list of winners.
GET SMART FAST:
- Spaniard Rafael Nadal won his 11th French Open title. The “king of clay” defeated Dominic Thiem of Austria in three sets. (Chuck Culpepper)
- The net neutrality rules officially end today, and a judge is expected to decide tomorrow whether AT&T can buy Time Warner, two developments that could dramatically expand the power of major telecom companies. (Tony Romm)
Journalists fear the DOJ seizure of New York Times reporter Ali Watkins’s phone and email records signals that the Trump administration will take an aggressive approach toward the press. After facing criticism for obtaining records from reporters, President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, instituted guidelines to minimize such seizures, but Watkins’s case may signal those guidelines have been abandoned. (New York Times)
- A Russian government adviser has launched a new media venture aimed at waging an “information war” in the United States and Europe. The outlet, called “USA Really,” attempted to hold a White House rally in protest of “growing political censorship … aimed at discrediting the Russian Federation,” but its permits were denied. (Daily Beast)
- A fire engulfed a warehouse in Iraq that was storing ballots from the country’s parliamentary elections. The blaze delivered yet another setback to a nationwide election mired in allegations of fraud. It was not immediately clear how the fire would affect results of the May vote, which had been scheduled next month for a full manual recount. (Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim)
- Cuba released details on one of the latest U.S. Embassy workers to be affected by mysterious “health symptoms.” Cuban officials said they were informed of the latest episode late last month when their U.S. counterparts told them an embassy worker was hearing “undefined sounds” in her Havana home. Cuba said it sent investigators to the house but could not discover the source of the sound. (AP)
- An Indiana educator who survived last year’s mass shooting in Vegas experienced another gun-related trauma last month. A 13-year-old student opened fire at Shelly Alexander's school eight months after her taxi was caught in the hail of bullets on the Las Vegas Strip. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- At least 60 people have been sickened and dozens hospitalized in a new multistate salmonella outbreak tied to pre-cut melons. CDC officials said the outbreak is believed to be tied to a Caito Foods facility in Indiana, which has issued recall notices to several states including Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio. (Avi Selk)
- The American Medical Association will meet this week to consider revising its stance on physician-assisted suicide. Though medically assisted death is legal in six states, as well as the District, the group has maintained opposition to the procedure for decades. (Lindsey Bever)
- Former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested on suspicion of burglary as he was house-hunting in Southern California. The former Cleveland Browns tight end, who is African American, was looking for a house for his mother-in-law when a neighbor called the sheriff’s office to report a possible burglary. (NBC News)
- Breshna Musazai, who was shot by Taliban insurgents during a 2016 attack on American University in Kabul, graduated from college. Musazai, who has been called “Afghanistan’s Malala,” plans to next pursue a master’s degree in law or human rights. (Sharif Hassan)
THE LATEST FROM SINGAPORE:
-- Trump met Monday with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as the U.S. delegation raced to complete final arrangements for the summit. David Nakamura and Philip Rucker report: “At the Istana, the government complex that includes Lee’s offices, the president shook hands with the prime minister, but Trump declined to answer shouted questions from reporters before the two leaders joined their aides for a luncheon.
“News reports have speculated that the North Korean delegation could depart Singapore on Tuesday afternoon, but U.S. officials said they believe it is possible Trump and Kim could continue talking if their morning session goes smoothly. One U.S. official was quoted in a South Korean news outlet saying he believes the report of an early departure for Kim was intended as a negotiating tactic for the North Korean side to gain leverage in the talks.”
-- South Korean President Moon Jae-in predicted it could take years to reach an accord with North Korea. Brian Murphy reports: “The remarks by [Moon] reinforced South Korea’s view of the talks as another step in the ongoing dialogue with [Kim] rather than a one-time attempt by [Trump] to reach a deal over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities. … Moon also said that the region cannot ‘depend just on the North Korea-U.S. talks’ and that South Korea must be included in any possible future negotiations that emerge from Tuesday’s summit. ‘Inter-Korean talks need to be successfully carried out side by side,’ he said.” Moon and Trump spoke on the phone earlier today for 40 minutes, the South Korean presidential Blue House said.
-- Murphy spoke with four North Korean defectors about the summit and the possibility that they might one day be able to return home. “I left this place with [a] broken heart, and whenever I see it I wish to go back,” said Jung Gwang-il, who spent three years at a political prison camp before swimming across the Tumen River to China.
-- Nakamura set the scene outside the St. Regis Hotel in Singapore, where dozens of curious onlookers gathered for Kim’s arrival. “[On Sunday afternoon, a] gold-colored tour bus with tinted windows pulls up to the curb. Out pop two dozen men in dark business attire. ’It's the running guys, in suits!’ a girl exclaims. The crowd mummers. ... Kim's reputation, morphing amid a remarkable regional charm offensive, has preceded him — the cartoonish leader of the Hermit Kingdom, whose phalanx of lockstep body guards were turned into a social media meme after they were filmed jogging robotically next to his armored Mercedes sedan in the Korean demilitarized zone[.] Now, here they are … hustling into position outside a luxury 5-star hotel … Singapore was selected as the site for the Trump-Kim summit because of its reputation as a neutral nation that maintains diplomatic relations with both countries and had proven itself capable of providing tight security for other high-profile international events.”
-- “Trump left America’s closest allies dismayed after he yanked the U.S. endorsement of a Group of Seven economic agreement and then unleashed a Twitter attack — echoed by further harsh criticisms from his White House advisers — on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” Damian Paletta and Joel Achenbach report. “Trump’s actions deepened the divide between the United States and its allies, and European leaders Sunday expressed shock and resignation at this latest sign that the president is eager to defy diplomatic norms and blow up trade relationships that have been strong for decades ... The leaders of the seven industrial powers had managed by Saturday to overcome their differences and cobble together a joint communique expressing common principles and economic aspirations. Trudeau announced the agreement at a news conference, and then, taking questions from reporters, reiterated his objections to Trump’s imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Trump took umbrage at those comments. Traveling on Air Force One to Singapore … Trump charged Trudeau with ‘false statements’ and accused him of being ‘dishonest’ and ‘weak.’
“The White House tripled down on the Trudeau attack when it sent two top aides onto the Sunday morning talk shows. Peter Navarro, Trump’s top trade adviser, denounced Trudeau with language rarely used even against America’s adversaries. ‘There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,’ Navarro said in an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘And that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference.’”
“POTUS is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around,” chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN's “State of the Union.” “He is not going to permit any show of weakness on the trip to negotiate with North Korea. ... He really kind of stabbed us in the back … It’s a betrayal. It's essentially double-crossing. Not just double-crossing [Trump], but other members of the G-7.”
-- The Toronto Star’s Tonda MacCharles reports on what happened behind the scenes between Trump and Trudeau: “At talks on the economy Friday afternoon, one official from a European G7 delegation said Trump aired a string of ‘grievances’ about trade. The others responded in kind, the official said. … Those frictions on trade continued into the Friday evening bilateral meeting between Trump and Trudeau … As Canadian officials tell it, Trudeau went over all of Canada’s arguments in opposition to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, even though the Canadians had the feeling the American team had already ‘done some homework about how the Canadian public had reacted’ to tariffs, and were surprised by the backlash. Trudeau told Trump directly what he said in American television interviews the week before: that Canadians felt Trump’s declaration that Canadian steel and aluminum is a national security threat was ‘kind of insulting’ — as Trudeau described it in his news conference Sunday.”
-- A chorus of Western leaders also strongly rebuked Trump. Griff Witte and James McAuley report: “Trump’s abandonment of the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear agreement and his decision to impose protectionist tariffs on European steel and aluminum products have established a level of animosity between the United States and Europe that, by many measures, surpasses even the rift over the Iraq War. The depth of exasperation showed in a Sunday afternoon statement from [French President Emmanuel Macron’s] office. ‘International cooperation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks,’ the statement said. ‘Let's be serious and worthy of our people.’" British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “fully supportive of Justin Trudeau” in a statement, and German foreign minister Heiko Maas called on European nations to stick together after Trump’s attack on Canada.
-- Why this matters: Trump has estranged himself from America’s closest allies “at the very moment he is about to stride onto the most important world stage he has assumed since taking office,” the New York Time’s Peter Baker explains. “Whether Mr. Kim sees Mr. Trump’s combative approach as a sign of strength or weakness, the rupture with other major powers was sure to shadow the session … Trump’s strategy for pressuring Mr. Kim to give up his nuclear weapons has depended on isolating North Korea, but he arrived in Singapore looking isolated himself.”
-- “Nearly a year-and-a-half into his presidency, Trump is hitting his stride on the part of the job that he seems to love the most: going it alone,” Ashley Parker writes. “That he is often doing so in defiance of his own advisers, longtime U.S. allies and Congress — including members of his own party — seems to only heighten his pleasure. From tariffs to pardons to immigration roundups, the president is increasingly charting his own strategy on unilateral actions — and there is evidence the approach may be working for him. Trump’s approval numbers have ticked up in recent polls from his previous low points.”
-- Trump even told Macron that the European Union is “worse than China” on trade, according to Axios’s Jonathan Swan: “In their bilateral meeting in the White House's Cabinet Room, on April 24, Macron said to Trump, ‘Let’s work together, we both have a China problem,’ according to a source in the room. The source said Trump responded that the European Union is ‘worse than China.’ ‘He then went on a rant about Germany and cars,’ the source added. (In their private meetings Trump has taken Angela Merkel to task for her country's tariffs on U.S. automobiles and the ease with which German carmakers like Mercedes, Volkswagen and BMW can sell into the U.S. market.) Trump also says that America has a fairly balanced trading relationship with France but that the U.S.-European trading relationship is very unfair.”
RALLYING AROUND THE FLAG IN CANADA:
-- Even Trudeau’s most conservative opponents in Canada have lined up in support of their liberal leader following Trump's attacks on him. Selena Ross reports: “‘I think sometimes, you know, you have to tell the schoolyard bully that they can’t have your lunch money. And I think that’s what the prime minister did today,’ said Jaime Watt, a Toronto-based conservative political strategist. ‘I think most Canadians would say that they were proud of their prime minister.’ … But that sense of solidarity extends further than Trudeau’s approach this weekend, said [Canadian political insiders from across the ideological spectrum]. Whatever the prime minister’s other actions on the world stage, dealing with Trump is a unique dilemma, they said, and they have not been bothered by Trudeau’s decision to stick to civility until now.”
-- Guy Lawson looks at Trudeau’s campaign against the American trade war in the New York Times Magazine: “The Canadians could see the trouble looming in the summer of 2016. American ignorance about Canada has long been a fact of life — and an eye-rolling joke — for Canadians. But with the election of Trump, Americans’ lack of knowledge suddenly appeared to the inner circle of [Trudeau’s] government to be a geopolitical threat. What was most troubling was less that Trump lacked a sophisticated understanding of Canada-United States relations but that he apparently deliberately didn’t care to develop one. … This interdependent relationship raised difficult questions for the Canadian government in light of Trump’s evident animosity and imperviousness to facts. How to politely make the case for free trade and Nafta in a way that didn’t insult the thin-skinned president? How to respectfully, firmly but subtly, preferably attracting as little attention as possible — qualities that Canadians understand well — guide Trump to change his mind about Canada? … Put another way, how to engage in a covert propaganda campaign aimed at Trump, without upsetting his elephantine ego?”
-- Bottom line: All of the aforementioned discord is exactly what Vladimir Putin wants. The Russian leader has long dreamed of a rift this big in the Atlantic alliance. Rubbing salt in the wounds, Putin said during a trip to China that he would welcome a meeting with Trump “as soon as the American side is ready.”
THE PERMANENT CAMPAIGN:
-- “Should Democrats find a Trump of their own? Political outsiders find little room in 2020 presidential field,” by Michael Scherer: “For a guy who says he is not running for president, Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz sure checked a lot of political boxes over the past week. Upon announcing his resignation from his company, he published a snappy new website, with a direct-to-camera video and a fashionable black-and-white photo of him smiling on a Seattle street. He revealed plans to write a book, likely to be published early in 2019, about his philosophy on running a socially responsible company. And he sent an open letter to his employees announcing his desire to explore 'public service.' But it took less than 24 hours for Schultz to divulge something else — a willingness to challenge the liberal orthodoxy that courses through the Democratic Party.
“So it has gone for months, as Democrats poke around at the possibility of finding a non-politician [presidential candidate] … In theory, there is a real opportunity for an outsider to take over the party and challenge Trump[.] The problem has been finding the right person to do it, particularly in a party whose voter base is more inclined to favor government experience. The political outsiders who have explored candidacies include some of the biggest names in the corporate world …. But each of those people ultimately decided to give up the dream, at least for now, after feeling out Democratic strategists. ...
“Schultz has in many ways been preparing far longer than the other non-politician candidates for a potential run … [and his] discussions about a possible campaign date back more than a decade with both Democrats and Republicans.” “The people who will post up best against Trump are people who are most opposite to Trump in the conduct of their lives,” said one strategist who knows Schultz. “In that sense, he posts up very well.”
-- Obama has privately met with at least nine Democratic 2020 hopefuls. Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports: “All the meetings were arranged quietly, without even some close advisers to the people involved being told of the conversations, in part because of how much Obama bristles at his private meetings becoming public knowledge. … The meetings have been at Obama’s personal office on the third floor of the World Wildlife Fund building in D.C.’s West End neighborhood, and they show how a stream of ambitious, searching politicians are looking for guidance and support from the man who has remained the reluctant leader of the Democratic Party, eager to be involved, though not directly. He's not making any promises of support, though, and is not expected to endorse in the 2020 race until after a nominee has emerged.” Obama has already sat down with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Deval Patrick.
-- Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who has not been shy about criticizing Trump, is facing a serious primary challenge from a political newcomer who is casting Sanford as disloyal. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “The once seemingly safe former South Carolina governor, who’s never lost a bid for political office, is sweating in the final days of his primary race against state Rep. Katie Arrington … Over the past several weeks, Sanford has launched an 11th-hour TV advertising blitz going directly after Arrington, a sure indication that he’s under duress. He’s barnstorming his Lowcountry district. And on Sunday, he released a full-page letter to a local newspaper in which he pleaded with voters to ‘look at the list of things I have gotten done on your behalf’ and asked them to call him on his personal cell phone if they had any questions.” Most South Carolina political insiders think Sanford will be able to pull out a victory. “Still, the last-minute $380,000 barrage of commercials from Sanford — a notoriously frugal figure who hasn’t spent money on TV advertising in five years — has been striking.”
-- Women are struggling to break through as candidates in gubernatorial races. The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns report: “When Chris Giunchigliani told former Senator Harry Reid about her plans to run for governor of Nevada in 2018, he candidly told her that he thought her opponent, Steve Sisolak, would make a stronger candidate, Ms. Giunchigliani recently recalled. … From Tuesday through September, female candidates for governor will be on the ballot in Democratic primaries across 17 states, including pivotal battlegrounds such as Florida, Wisconsin and Colorado — part of the record number of women running for governor this year. In interviews, several said they are facing entrenched resistance to female power at the executive level, and male opponents with deeper campaign coffers and, in some cases, far less political experience.”
-- “Mitt Romney Wants In Again. There Is One Catch,” by the New York Times's Matt Flegenheimer: “By January, he will almost certainly be a United States senator, representing a state his ancestors helped settle. He will return to the grand political arena where he is happiest, friends say, after years in semi-exile. He will matter. The question is how. Will he be a vocal check on [Trump], a man he once labeled a ‘phony’ and a ‘fraud’? Or a mostly deferential Republican in a capital full of them? So far, his campaign has leaned toward deference, disappointing some … who hoped he would re-emerge chiefly as an unswerving Trump critic with gravitas — at last banishing the reputation for equivocation that dogged his presidential bids. … As past Trump antagonists like Senator Ted Cruz and [Paul] Ryan ... seem to have concluded for themselves, admission to the head table of Republican politics in 2018 carries a membership fee: making peace with the president, however unpleasant. [And] Mr. Romney, it seems, can live with that.”
-- The Congressional Leadership Fund is on track to spend $100 million in its attempts to keep the House red. From David Weigel: “As of this week, the CLF, which is aligned with [Paul Ryan], will have reserved $60 million in advertising — $50 million in TV, $10 million in digital — across 33 districts. At the same time, the new ad reservations demonstrate how the midterms are being fought on Republican turf. The new buy includes California’s 39th district, New Jersey’s 7th district, and New York’s 19th district. The California seat, which backed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign by 8.6 points, pits a former Republican state legislator against a Democratic recruit who can self-fund his campaign; the New Jersey and New York seats are held by legislators, Leonard Lance and John Faso, who opposed Ryan’s signature achievement, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
-- The leading Senate Democratic super PAC plans to spend about $80 million advertising in nine battleground states. Sean Sullivan reports: “Senate Majority PAC will soon secure post-Labor Day airtime in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia, the group told [The Post]. The spending represents its first wave of fall reservations, officials said. … With its reservations, Senate Majority PAC is mostly trying to protect vulnerable Democratic senators in states Trump won by a wide margin: Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. It is also trying to fortify Florida, where Trump won a close race and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson faces a challenging reelection bid against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.”
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- “Down on the border, there's a new trail of tears,” by the Boston Globe's Liz Goodwin: “Every night before bed, Wil, who is 6 years old, says his prayers and then kisses two printed-out photos of his mom and dad that are taped on the wall by his bed goodnight. A few hours later, he’s likely to wander out of his bunk bed and stand outside the door of his foster parents’ room, crying and saying his stomach hurts. … US Border Patrol agents separated Wil from his father six months ago, after the pair made the long journey from violence-torn Honduras to the US border[.] Within days … Wil watched as his father was taken away in handcuffs, joining a long line of other chained men. [It was] the last time he saw his dad. ... As the children and parents experience the fallout of forced separation by US authorities, advocates are struggling to get even basic information about the location and status of these detainees.”
-- A group of Washington state lawmakers visited a federal detention center where immigrants are being held. Amy B Wang reports: “Although Seattle is some 1,500 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the debate over family separations hit closer to home for the Evergreen State after dozens of immigrants were transferred last week to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Nearly all of those immigrants — 174 out of 206 — were women, said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who spent about three hours Saturday morning meeting with the recently moved detainees at the SeaTac facility. … Many spoke of fleeing threats of rape, gang violence and political persecution, Jayapal said.” The congresswoman added more than half of the women said they had been separated from their children, some of them as young as 12 months. “The mothers could not stop crying when they spoke about their children,” Jayapal wrote in a statement after her visit.
-- A Honduran father separated from his family after crossing the border killed himself in a Texas jail cell. Marco Antonio Muñoz suffered a breakdown last month, a day after crossing the Rio Grande with his wife and 3-year-old son. According to one Border Patrol agent, Muñoz “lost it” when he was told they would be separated. “The guy lost his s---,” the agent said. “They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands.” (Nick Miroff)
-- A federal judge has granted a last-minute reprieve to Ecuadoran immigrant Pablo Villavicencio, who was fast-tracked for deportation this month while attempting to deliver pasta to a New York military base. Villavicencio — who has a wife and two American daughters — has become the latest face in an ongoing immigration debate playing out across the country, as the Trump administration attempts to implement stricter border policies and enforcement. (Avi Selk)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump took to Twitter last night and unleashed more vitriol over the relationship with Europe on trade:
Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay? Not fair to the PEOPLE of America! $800 Billion Trade Deficit...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
....And add to that the fact that the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!). The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
....Germany pays 1% (slowly) of GDP towards NATO, while we pay 4% of a MUCH larger GDP. Does anybody believe that makes sense? We protect Europe (which is good) at great financial loss, and then get unfairly clobbered on Trade. Change is coming!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
Sorry, we cannot let our friends, or enemies, take advantage of us on Trade anymore. We must put the American worker first!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
The French president wrote that Trump's isolationist stance after the G-7 summit was “contrary to American history”:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tweeted this broadside against Trump after he broke with American allies at the summit:
To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) June 10, 2018
From Steve Schmidt, who served as a senior adviser to McCain's 2008 presidential campaign:
TRUMP disgraced the Presidency and the United States at the G-7 summit. From his slovenly appearance to his unpreparedness, ignorance and arrogance, he beclowned himself. The Republican majority is filled with cowards who are servile supplicants to the most unfit POTUS ever— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 10, 2018
From outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.):
Fellow Republicans, this is not who we are. This cannot be our party. https://t.co/xkGMYfoR9w— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) June 10, 2018
From the former FBI director:
Our national security relationship with Canada is vital and saves American lives. It was built over generations and is bigger than any person or dispute. This too shall pass. pic.twitter.com/TTOPUf2kjB— James Comey (@Comey) June 10, 2018
A writer for the New Yorker is taken aback that more GOP leaders are not speaking out about Trump setting the Western alliance on fire:
Did I miss the part of the last 24 hours where the Republican leaders on Capitol Hill said no they do not in fact want Russia to rejoin the G7 they led the way in kicking them out of? Or hostile relations with Canada?— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) June 10, 2018
A former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau responded to Trump's attacks on the Canadian leader:
Big tough guy once he’s back on his airplane. Can’t do it in person, and knows it, which makes him feel week. So he projects these feelings onto Trudeau and then lashes out at him. You don’t need to be Freud. He’s a pathetic little man-child. https://t.co/lpz0R5Ftyj— Roland Paris (@rolandparis) June 9, 2018
From the president of Canada's auto parts industry association:
So.... you’re suggesting using a National Security regulation to charge $8B in tariffs to *American* consumers who buy 1 million cars made by American automakers, containing 60% American parts content, because of the price of milk in Windsor?— Flavio Volpe (@FlavioVolpe1) June 10, 2018
Where do I start? https://t.co/AxVLVEGEBn
From the president of the Council on Foreign Relations:
The unraveling of G-7 summit works in NK’s favor as @realDonaldTrump will not want to bust up 2 summits in a row lest people conclude he is the problem. Increases incentive for Kim to up his asks and limit his compromises and for Trump to do the opposite. Hardly the ideal context— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) June 10, 2018
Here are four different perspectives on that iconic image from the G-7 summit:
From a Reuters photo editor:
From a CBS News reporter:
AP grabbed this shot of Trump walking in late to the gender equality breakfast at the G7 summit pic.twitter.com/ZBR3dcXGcG— Katie Watson (@kathrynw5) June 9, 2018
The first lady attended an event at Ford’s Theatre:
Thank you @Fordstheatre & the talented performers for a special evening celebrating the arts & the legacy of former President Lincoln. Congratulations to @jacknicklaus & Sheila Johnson, the recipients of the Lincoln Medal! pic.twitter.com/EEJLhLn5qb— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) June 11, 2018
Two White House advisers got the chance to see the Stanley Cup:
Or, as a New York Times reporter put it:
Ivanka & Jared meeting with the Russians. pic.twitter.com/kaUoFKT2l7— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) June 10, 2018
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Politico, “Meet the guys who tape Trump's papers back together,” by Annie Karni: “Solomon Lartey spent the first five months of the Trump administration [standing] over a desk with scraps of paper spread out in front of him. [Lartey] was a career government official … But he had never seen anything like this[.] He had never had to tape the president’s papers back together again. Armed with rolls of clear Scotch tape, Lartey and his colleagues would sift through large piles of shredded paper and put them back together, he said, ‘like a jigsaw puzzle.’ … He said his entire department was dedicated to the task of taping paper back together in the opening months of the Trump administration. … Sometimes the papers would just be split down the middle, but other times they would be torn into pieces so small they looked like confetti. It was a painstaking process that was the result of a clash between legal requirements to preserve White House records and [Trump’s] odd and enduring habit of ripping up papers when he’s done with them — what some people described as his unofficial ‘filing system.’”
-- New Yorker, “Donald Trump’s New World Order,” by Adam Entous: “How the President, Israel, and the Gulf states plan to fight Iran — and leave the Palestinians and the Obama years behind.”
-- New York Times, “9 Minutes of Terror, 12 Months of Recovery: Inside the Republican Baseball Team’s Return,” by Noah Weiland: “[I]n findings shared with lawmakers over the past year, the F.B.I. suggested that [James] Hodgkinson, 66, came to the field to commit suicide in a firefight with the police, but said that the bureau did not have incontrovertible proof that he had come to the scene to specifically target the Republicans. A week after the shooting, the F.B.I. said the gunman had most likely acted ‘spontaneously,’ and it has not said publicly that the attack was politically motivated. … The players had spent months absorbing the enormity of what had happened. Now, they had a version of events they believed contradicted their experience of those nine minutes that spring morning.”
-- The Daily Beast, “How a Journalist Kept Russia’s Secret Links to Brexit Under Wraps,” by Nico Hines: “The extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 votes for Trump and Brexit has been investigated by intelligence agencies, [Congress, the FBI and Robert Mueller]. For much of that time, a reporter in England has been in possession of extraordinary details about Russia’s cultivation and handling of Brexit’s biggest bankroller. Arron Banks was secretly in regular contact with Russian officials from 2015 to 2017, according to a cache of emails … Banks, who ran the Leave.EU campaign group, was one of the first foreign political figures to visit Donald Trump—accompanying Nigel Farage to Trump Tower—soon after the shock presidential election of 2016. Farage is reportedly a ‘person of interest’ in the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.”
-- Kansas City Star, “Behind the scenes of Eric Greitens' decision to resign. 'No one saw it coming,’” by Jason Hancock and Lindsay Wise: “This account of Greitens' final days in office is based on interviews with people close to the governor, the investigative committee in Jefferson City and the criminal prosecution he faced in St. Louis. The story they tell shows how a week of triumph for the governor devolved within days into the realization that his path to survival had virtually vanished.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Fox News host apologizes for calling Trump and Kim ‘two dictators,’” from Allyson Chiu: “[A]s [‘Fox & Friends’ host Abby Huntsman] chatted with former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, Huntsman referred to [Trump and Kim] as ‘two dictators,’ which threw the Internet into a frenzy. ‘Regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators, what we are seeing right now, this is history,’ she said as footage of Trump exiting Air Force One at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore played. … Later during the show, Huntsman apologized, acknowledging she had made a mistake. ‘As you know on live TV sometimes you don’t always say things perfectly,’ she said. ‘I called both President Trump and Kim Jong Un a dictator. I didn’t mean to say that, my mistake, I apologize for that.’ She also tweeted a second apology Sunday afternoon. 'I’ll never claim to be a perfect human being,' she wrote.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Blue states find ways to undercut GOP tax law,” from Politico: “In places like New York, taxpayers will not only be able to claim the same break as before Republicans imposed a new $10,000 cap on the deduction, but they will also be able to sidestep longstanding federal rules on exactly when the deduction may be taken. … It’s a little noticed and unexpected dynamic in the partisan battle over the recent tax overhaul. The new SALT cap has been one of the biggest flash points, with Democrats from high-tax states complaining they were targeted by congressional Republicans. … States say they are merely restoring what Congress took from them. But some of the states would go beyond that, giving their residents breaks unavailable in other states. What’s more, even as Democrats lambaste the new tax law as a giveaway to the rich, their workarounds would disproportionately benefit the well-to-do because they tend to have the most state and local taxes to deduct.”
Trump is in Singapore, where he has already met today with the country's prime minister and had a meet and greet at the U.S. Embassy there. He is supposed to meet with Kim at 9 p.m. Eastern.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“He’s like Heath Ledger’s Joker — but without the operational excellence,” a senior G-7 official in the aftermath of the summit, as told to David Frum, a former speechwriter to George W. Bush.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- This morning’s rain in the District should taper off by the afternoon. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Areas of rain are likely. However, as the afternoon wears on, the rain should end from northwest to southeast. Skies may brighten a bit, but winds from the east keep it unseasonably cool, with highs mostly in the mid-to-upper 60s.”
-- The Nationals lost to the Giants 2-0. (Chelsea Janes)
-- Education issues have taken center stage in Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. From Donna St. George: “[P]olls and experts suggest [education] could be a vulnerability for incumbent Larry Hogan. In a field of seven major candidates, most have called for more money for education, more seats in prekindergarten and more programs for students to attend college without debt. They have rolled out proposals on computer science education, school security, career preparation and teacher pay. But they also have made it personal, talking about their connections to public education.”
-- Ovetta Wiggins profiles Democrat Valerie Ervin, who entered Maryland governor’s race after the unexpected death of her running mate, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz: “She had spent 10 years in elected office, on the Montgomery County school board and council, saying and doing what she thought was right even if it angered her allies in the process. … A large part of her agenda is focused on improving public education, including universal prekindergarten. … But Ervin broke with her Democratic rivals at a recent debate by saying that public schools don’t necessarily need more money — they need to spend what they have wisely, and with equity in mind.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
John Oliver went after Fox News for some of its hosts’ attacks on the Mueller investigation:
Former national security adviser Susan Rice called Trump's statement blaming Obama for Russia's annexation of Crimea “disgraceful”:
Residents of Spain's Basque country formed a human chain to spotlight their wish for independence:
A high school valedictorian in California had her mic cut when her speech turned to sexual misconduct allegations:
And students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High gave a surprise performance at the Tony's: