Trump demands credit for getting along with Kim Jong Un

President Donald Trump continued to defend his budding relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday, demanding credit for his role in making “initial steps toward a deal” by establishing a personal rapport with the young dictator during last week’s summit in Singapore.

“If President Obama (who got nowhere with North Korea and would have had to go to war with many millions of people being killed) had gotten along with North Korea and made the initial steps toward a deal that I have, the Fake News would have named him a national hero!” Trump tweeted.

Amid lingering skepticism over North Korea’s commitment to complete denuclearization in the wake of the Singapore summit, Trump has aggressively pushed the idea that Kim is sincere in his intentions and that the two leaders were able to develop a unique chemistry.

It’s a conviction South Korean officials share. South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-Nam said Monday in Washington that any diplomatic progress should be credited to the connection that Trump and Kim established through an “unprecedented top-down approach” to negotiations.

“The actors for this top-level diplomacy are completely different leaders as compared to the past,” Lim told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Moreover, the personal chemistry between them has been unique as well.”

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, asked about Trump’s praise for Kim, suggested the President is as willing to use carrots as he would be — if necessary — to use sticks. “If you try to play Trump or back out, there’s going to be a war and nobody wants war,” Graham told CNN.

Trump’s claims to a cozy relationship may reflect an effort to butter-up Kim “to make it easier to get a better deal,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN last week.

Indeed, the administration hopes that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can build on that rapport to create substantial movement toward denuclearization.

But sources have told CNN that there is nothing to suggest that North Korea has begun destroying its missile launch sites, despite Trump’s repeated claims to the contrary and his declaration last week that the country is no longer a nuclear threat.

Harry Harris, Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to South Korea, said last week that North Korea continues to be a nuclear threat and that major military exercises should be paused to give Kim a chance to prove whether he is “serious.”

Trump announced in Singapore that the US would suspend “war games” with South Korea and Japan, taking Seoul, Tokyo, lawmakers and parts of the US military by surprise.

Additionally, several US defense officials said that, so far, there is no indication that Kim has made good on his promise to return the remains of prisoners of war and soldiers declared missing in action during the Korean War — something Trump has repeatedly said the two leaders agreed upon during their meeting.

These officials also cautioned that a lengthy DNA verification process would be needed when and if any remains are returned to the US.

In South Korea, however, the prism is different. Discussions center less on Trump’s achievements or lack of them, or his failures to live up to his own word, and more on the possibilities his summit opened up — in particular his new relationship with Kim.

While critics continue to suggest that Trump failed to secure concrete concessions from North Korea — including guarantees related to verifiable irreversible denuclearization and ending human rights abuses — South Korean officials have publicly credited the US President for facilitating the signing of the Panmunjom declaration and the Singapore statement, despite questions over specific terms.

“President Trump has made an unprecedented strategic decision to meet face-to-face with the leader of the DPRK,” Vice Foreign Minister Lim said, noting that Trump accounted for cultural considerations in dealing with Kim by showing him “due respect” and treating “him as a leader of a state.”

[CNN]

Trump Once Again Declares the ‘Fake News Media’ the ‘Enemy of the People’

On Sunday, President Donald Trump capped off Father’s Day by accusing the FBI of providing too much information to the media.

“Why was the FBI giving so much information to the Fake News Media. They are not supposed to be doing that, and knowing the enemy of the people Fake News, they put their own spin on it – truth doesn’t matter to them!” Trump wrote.

[Mediaite]

Trump urges Washington Post employees to go on strike and ‘get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time’

As part of a frantic tweet storm on Sunday morning, President Donald Trump urged unionized workers at The Washington Post to go on strike for higher pay — and rid him of “Fake News” for awhile.

Trump’s antipathy for Post owner Jeff Bezos — founder of Amazon.com — caused the president to take up the mantle of workers’ rights, with the president tweeting, “Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn’t paying them enough. I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is a registered lobbyist?”

Trump has long waged war against Bezos, complaining his paper is too critical of him, and has previously called for an higher postal rates for Amazon customers.

[Raw Story]

Trump blasts media as America’s ‘biggest enemy’ for North Korea coverage

President Trump posted a series of tweets about his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as he arrived back in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning, including blasting the media as “our country’s biggest enemy” for its coverage of the historic summit.

“So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea,” the president wrote. “500 days ago they would have ‘begged’ for this deal-looked like war would break out.”

He continued: “Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!”

While Trump’s meeting with Kim was historic, many critics say it fell short of expectations and the optimism the president had about the summit.

The two leaders signed a vague four-point statement in which North Korea reaffirmed its commitment to work toward “complete denuclearization” but the promise came without a timetable or mention of any verification of the North’s progress.

The joint statement was also less specific than the agreement North Korea signed at the so-called six-party talks in 2005. Then, Pyongyang promised to abandon all nuclear weapons, to return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to submit to international inspections.

Many say the summit, instead, gave more legitimacy to Kim as he stood as an equal alongside a U.S. president and posed for photos. Trump said he was “honored” to be there and described Kim, a despotic adversary, as a “talented” leader who could be trusted.

Past American presidents have refused face-to-face meetings with North Korea’s leadership over fears of legitimizing a totalitarian state that has admitted to state-sponsored kidnapping and sent thousands of its citizens to forced labor camps.

In Trump’s series of tweets after he landed at 6:10 a.m., he applauded his efforts and claimed North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat” and everyone could “sleep well tonight.”

Trump has long disparaged members of the media as “fake news” and on multiple occasions called the press an “enemy of the American people.”

[USA Today]

Trump snapped at CNN reporter for asking about G7 tensions: ‘Fake news CNN — the worst’

Donald Trump snarled at a CNN reporter on Saturday morning for asking a question about tensions between the president and other leaders attending the G7 conference, accusing the reporter of “fake news.”

With the unidentified reporter noting there were reports that Trump and other world leaders attending the summit were at odds — and that Trump was leaving the conference early for a friendlier get-together with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un — the president pulled up short before answering.

“As you were heading into these G7 talks there was a sense that America’s closest allies were frustrated and angry with you and you were angry with them and you were leaving here to go meet early for talks in Singapore. I’m wondering if you view it the same way?’ Trump was asked

“Who are you with out of curiosity?” Trumps demanded, only to be told “CNN.”

“I figured, fake news, CNN, the worst,” Trump snapped back. “I had no idea you were with CNN, after the question I knew you were with CNN.”

After giving a rambling answer, Trump too another jab at the cable news network, before moving on to another reporter.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump Holds Solo News Conference, Defends Bashing Press

President Donald Trump stepped to the microphone alone Saturday to take reporters’ questions, just the second time he’d done so since taking office more than a year ago.

He talked about his desire for countries to remove all barriers to the free flow of goods. He looked ahead to the next big meeting on his schedule — a summit in Singapore next week with North Korea’s leader. Along the way, Trump bashed the U.S. press and defended why he does it.

“I’d like to ask you why you do that?” said a White House reporter from the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Trump, who is obsessed with his media coverage and has labeled the press “the enemy of the people,” defended the steady stream of attacks.

“Because the U.S. press is very dishonest. Much of it, not all of it,” Trump said. “Oh, I have some folks in your profession that are with the U.S., in the U.S., citizens, proud citizens; they’re reporters. These are some of the most outstanding people I know. But there are many people in the press that are unbelievably dishonest. They don’t cover stories the way they’re supposed to be. They don’t even report them in many cases if they’re positive. So there’s tremendous — you know, I came up with the term ‘fake news.’

“It’s a lot of ‘fake news,’ but at the same time I have great respect for many of the people in the press,” he said.

During an earlier point in the news conference, Trump referred to a CNN producer’s “fake friends at CNN.”

Unlike with a more formal news conference, typically announced days in advance, the White House gave journalists traveling with Trump little warning that he was coming to their workspace to make a statement and answer questions before leaving the Group of Seven summit in Quebec to fly to Singapore.

He answered questions from just the small group, or “pool,” of reporters who travel with him, not the much larger universe of reporters who cover the White House on a daily basis and would attend a less hastily arranged question-and-answer session.

Trump seems more fond of sparring with reporters when he can share the stage with a foreign counterpart, as he did this past week at the White House after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had stopped in Washington to consult with Trump before the G-7 and the upcoming Kim summit.

The president has also been more open to answering questions during brief appearances at the White House, such as at bill-signing ceremonies or meetings with lawmakers, or on the South Lawn when he leaves or returns from an out-of-town trip.

Trump last appeared solo before reporters in February 2017, less than a month into his presidency. It was a rollicking, quickly arranged, 77-minute free-for-all in the stately East Room of the White House during which he railed against the news media, defended his fired national security adviser and insisted that no one who advised his campaign had had any contacts with Russia.

[The New York Times]

Trump lashes out at ‘unfair’ and ‘vicious’ Melania coverage

President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at recent media coverage of first lady Melania Trump, calling speculation surrounding her whereabouts in the weeks following a kidney surgery “unfair” and “vicious.”

“The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great First Lady, Melania,” Trump tweeted.

“During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse. All Fake, she is doing really well!”

Trump claimed in another tweet that “four reporters spotted Melania in the White House last week walking merrily along to a meeting” but “they never reported the sighting because it would hurt the sick narrative that she was living in a different part of the world, was really ill, or whatever.”

“Fake News is really bad!” he added.

CNBC reporter Eamon Javers had tweeted on May 30 that he had seen the first lady “walking with her aides in the West Wing” the day prior.

“Not that this will deter the conspiracy theorists, but I saw the First Lady walking with her aides in the West Wing yesterday afternoon,” Javers wrote.

Melania Trump attended a ceremony for Gold Star families on Monday that was closed to the press. It was slated to be her first public appearance since she underwent surgery at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on May 14.

The first lady is slated to appear at a Federal Emergency Management Agency event Wednesday afternoon with the president.

Speculation surrounding the Trump’s whereabouts in the weeks after her surgery has been the subject of several tweets and discussions on cable news.

One Rolling Stone writer speculated that she was “concealing abuse,” and The Atlantic’s David Frum posed a hypothetical about President Trump having “punched the First Lady in the White House.”

CNN also discussed Melania Trump’s whereabouts on its weekly media affairs program “Reliable Sources,” which included a graphic with a calendar of the number of days the first lady was absent.

[The Hill]

Trump’s ‘great night for Republicans’ in the California primaries wasn’t so great after all

On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump congratulated himself — and, oh yeah, his party — for its showing in Tuesday’s California primaries.

“Great night for Republicans!” tweeted Trump. “Congratulations to John Cox on a really big number in California. He can win. Even Fake News CNN said the Trump impact was really big, much bigger than they ever thought possible. So much for the big Blue Wave, it may be a big Red Wave. Working hard!”

Trump gets one thing right in this tweet: John Cox, until relatively recently a resident of Illinois, did qualify for one of the top two spots in the California governor’s race — alongside Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (The problem for Republicans, of course, is that a one-on-one matchup between Newsom and Cox is likely to heavily favor the Democrat, given the lean of the Golden State.)

Even if you give Trump that Cox victory, however, his claims about Tuesday’s results in California suggesting a “big Red Wave” are badly misguided.

Going into Tuesday’s vote, there were major concerns among Democratic strategists that the state’s odd “jungle primary” system could spell doom for their side. Under the primary system, which was approved by voters in a ballot initiative in 2010, all candidates run on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their party affiliations, advance to the November election.

Because of the massive outpouring of Democratic candidates in the wake of Trump’s election in 2016, the party was faced with the very real possibility in a number of swing congressional districts of splintering the vote between so many candidates that the more limited number of Republicans running secured both of the top two spots.

This, from the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, set those stakes clearly:

“The intricacies of the top-two format explain why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its allies have had to dump several million dollars (so far) into three Republican-held Southern California seats, CA-39, CA-48, and CA-49, before the primary because the Democrats are worried about not advancing candidates to the general election in one or more of those districts. This is why the California primary is by far the most important House primary this year, and not just because California has the largest share of U.S. House seats (about one-eighth of the 435 total, 53). Rather, it’s mostly because the California primary could decide races in June.”

That nightmare didn’t come to pass on Tuesday. Far from it. As Cook Political Report House editor David Wasserman tweeted early Wednesday morning:

That means that in all seven — yes, seven — Republican-held California House seats that Hillary Clinton won in the the 2016 election, Democrats will have a candidate. That’s a very big deal — particularly when you consider that if Democrats can win five or six of these seats that amounts to one-quarter (or close) of the total of 23 seats they need to net to win back the majority in November.

Also, not for nothing: It appears as though Republicans will be shut out of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election race — as the incumbent led the field with almost 44% of the vote and state senator Kevin de Leon appears to have secured the second slot.

Now, California is among the most Democratic states in the country. That Democrats did well in the state on Tuesday isn’t a massive surprise. But there were real — and valid — concerns heading into Tuesday’s primaries that the party might well cut off its nose to spite its face in the Golden State.

That simply didn’t happen. Democrats preserved virtually all of their opportunities on Tuesday night in California. And that means their solid chances of retaking the House majority in the fall remain very much intact.

Sorry, President Trump.

[CNN]

Trump Boasts Fox News’ Ratings, Trashes CNN on Twitter: ‘Fake News CNN is Dead!’

It’s no secret that President Trump plays favorites when it comes to his cable news watching.

In the cable news war, Fox News continues to dominate in ratings and has remained the #1 cable news network for 197 consecutive months. Meanwhile CNN saw a 25% decrease in viewership.

Real @FoxNews is doing great, Fake News CNN is dead!” Trump tweeted.

It is worth noting though that instead of attacking the “Failing” New York Times today, Trump seemed to have endorsed some of their reporting as of late. At least on Twitter

[Mediaite]

Trump accuses media, and not Russia, of ‘most highly sophisticated Disinformation Campaign in history of politics’

President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused the entire U.S. mainstream media of running a “highly sophisticated Disinformation Campaign” to undermine his 2016 campaign and his presidency.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump said it was the media, and not Russia, that had conducted a campaign of “disinformation” during the 2016 election.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump had promised to stop obsessing over the 2016 campaign and “to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more.”

[Raw Story]

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