News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
Consider this an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
President Donald Trump did not let the pressure of his high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin stand in the way of his typical Saturday routine: Tweeting followed by golf on a Trump-branded course.
“The weather is beautiful, and this place is incredible!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning, promoting his own money-losing property in Turnberry.
Trump did not plug his business from the official government account of the President of the United States, which he does not use. Instead, he gave the property a boost from his personal account, from behind the walls of his private club.
From The Hill
The United States secured “firm commitments” from North Korea on Sunday in efforts to negotiate the return of the remains of U.S. service members killed in the Korean War, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Pompeo’s statement came as U.S. officials held general-level talks with the North – the first such talks since 2009. He said that the discussions were “productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments” from North Korean officials on the return of the remains.
Pompeo said that working-level meetings would continue on Monday to discuss the next steps, including the actual transfer of the service members’ remains from North Korea.
From The Hill
Prince Charles and Prince William refused to meet with President Trump during his visit to the United Kingdom, according to London newspaper The Sunday Times.
A source familiar with the planning for the president and first lady Melania Trump‘s meeting with Queen Elizabeth II told the Times that Charles and William made it clear that they did not want to participate.
“This business of Prince Charles and Prince William not being there for the Trump visit was a snub,” the source told the paper. “They simply refused to attend. It’s a very, very unusual thing for the queen to be there on her own. Usually she is accompanied by somebody. Prince Charles has been substituting for Philip a lot recently.”
President Trump no longer doubts the basic intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election — he just seems incapable of taking it seriously, and tells staff that is simply what nations do, several sources close to Trump tell me.
Between the lines: There is no evidence that could ever change Trump’s mind, the sources said.
Why it matters:
- To the extent that Trump does confront Putin over meddling at tomorrow’s summit in Finland with Vladimir Putin — and the president has publicly promised to — it’s not with any genuine seriousness or enthusiasm, the sources say.
- It’ll be purely for domestic/media consumption. Trump has signaled as much in the sarcastic way he’s talked about this with the press.
From The Hill
The billboards feature headlines in English and Russian from 2000-2018 detailing the respective leaders’ “turbulent” attitudes toward a free press.
Niemi said the billboards were intended to show support for journalists in the US and Russia facing “ever toughening circumstances.”
“This is a statement on behalf of critical and high quality journalism,” Niemi said in the release. “As we welcome the presidents to the summit in Finland, we want to remind them of the importance of free press.”
“The media shouldn’t be the lap dog of any president or regime.”
The release notes that Finland is rated fourth in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, far ahead of the U.S.’s 45th-place finish. Russia was listed by the organization as No. 148 out of 180.
Earlier this year in the thick of his election campaign, Vladimir Putin released a propaganda video promoting Russia’s “invincible” new generation of nuclear weapons.
Why it matters: One scene in particular caught President Trump’s attention, according to sources with direct knowledge. The motion graphic in Putin’s video appeared to show missiles raining down on Florida — the home of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
- At the time, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said on CNNthat “one of the stunning aspects” of the demonstration video was that the Russians “would actually use an absolutely recognizable part of the United States to show where the targeting was.”
- “Clearly he [Putin] wanted us to see that,” Hayden said.
Trump stayed publicly silent. But privately, he raged. He told aides he understood this was Putin playing up to the crowds for his election but even so it was “over the line,” said a source familiar with Trump’s private comments.
A Sunday Bonus Note From The “Food For Thought” File
Today, a small but influential cadre of Republican elected officials, strategists and policy experts faces a similar choice. Heirs of Ronald Reagan, they have grown to believe that their party has also degenerated into something ugly and undemocratic—hostile to science and fact, rooted in an angry spirit of racial and ethnic nationalism, enamored of foreign strongmen and hostile to American institutions, and so fundamentally estranged from the nation’s founding values that it poses an existential threat to American democracy.
During the presidential campaign of 2016, and for the better part of the past two years, these Never Trumpers could plausibly speak of extracting their party from the grip of white nationalism and angry populism. Now, with midterm elections approaching—with broad majorities of the GOP electorate firmly in the president’s thrall and the Republican Congress all but fully acquiescent to the White House—such talk is fanciful.