Garbled President prompts more questions about June 12 summit
Developments on Day 483 of the Trump Administration:
Trump Scrambles Over North Korea’s Tougher Line
In a confused statement about his approach to North Korea, Donald Trump threatens Kim Jong-Un — after initially offering protection to the North Korean leader.
Early Wednesday, North Korea suddenly switched from conciliatory moves before a June 12 Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. Pyongyang cancelled that day’s discussions with South Korea and said that its nuclear weapons program must be assured if the summit was to proceed.
The North Korean statement cited US-South Korean joint air force exercises, an indication of Pyongyang’s negotiating position for a reduction of the American military presence on the Korean Peninsula. Even more importantly, it took aim at Trump’s hardline National Security Advisor John Bolton, who had said the “Libyan model” could be used for an agreement.
Pyongyang read Bolton’s comment as possible advocacy of regime change — Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program in 2004, eight years before an uprising toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Trump said nothing about developments until Thursday afternoon, when he spoke with reporters in the White House after he met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
He initially gave a garbled remark about the future of the summit:
They’ve been negotiating like nothing happened….If the meeting happens, it happens. And if it doesn’t, we go on to the next step. We may have the meeting. We may not have the meeting. If we don’t have it, that will be very interesting….We’ll see what happens.
A Confusion from Ignorance
Then the confusion began in earnest, as Trump betrayed his lack of knowledge about Libya.
Bolton’s “Libyan model” referred to the process in 2003-2004 where Tripoli halted nuclear weapons research, but Trump believed his National Security Advisor was speaking of the NATO intervention in 2011, initially to protect civilians but then in support of the offensive that toppled the Qaddafi regime.
The outcome was Trump’s offer of a deal protecting Kim Jong-un:
The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all when we’re thinking of North Korea. This with Kim Jong-un would be something where he would be there. He would be running his country. His country would be very rich.
The Libyan model was a much different model. We decimated that country. We never said to Qaddafi, ‘Oh, we’re going to give you protection.’ We went in and decimated him, and we did the same thing with Iraq.
But having tried to reassure Kim — and pushed back the recently-appointed Bolton — Trump immediately switched to a threat of regime change and the “decimation” of North Korea: “That model would take place if we don’t make a deal.”
Trump also swiped at Chinese leader Xi Jinping — a departure from his effusive praise of the “President for Life” — saying that Xi might be “influencing” Kim to take a tougher line.
He then returned to his muddled thoughts on the future of the summit: “You have to want to do it. With deals … you have to have two parties that want to do it. [Kim] absolutely wanted to do it. Perhaps he doesn’t want to do it.”
Abortion Clinics to Lose Federal Funding
The Trump Administration is planning to remove federal funding from clinics that provide abortions or refer patients to places that do so.
Three officials said the Administration will return to the 1988 requirement by President Ronald Reagan that required abortion services to have a “physical separation” and “separate personnel” from other family planning activities. The measure barred caregivers at facilities that received family planning funds from providing any information to patients about an abortion or where to receive one.
Federal family planning laws already ban direct funding of organizations that use abortion as a family planning method. However, conservative activists and Republican lawmakers have been pressing the Health and Human Services Department to tighten the rules further.
Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the new proposal is “outrageous” and “dangerous”:
[This is] designed to make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood. This is designed to force doctors and nurses to lie to their patients. It would have devastating consequences across this country.
Jared Kushner’s Company Close to Bailout Deal with Qatar Over New York City Project
Kushner Companies, controlled by the family of Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, is close to a bailout of its troubled New York City project by a firm with financial ties to the Qatari regime.
“Executives briefed on the deal” said Charles Kushner, Jared’s father and head of Kushner Companies, is in advanced talks with Brookfield Asset Management over a partnership for a 41-story tower on 666 Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan.
Brookfield’s real estate arm, Brookfield Property Partners, is partly owned by the Qatari government through the Qatar Investment Authority.
The Kushner family have been searching the globe for a partner since 2016. They pursued Chinese investment, and Jared Kushner may have raised the matter in December 2016 in a meeting with Sergey Gorkov, head of a leading Russian State-owned bank. Last year Charles Kushner met a billionaire from Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, the country’s former Prime Minister.
Charles and Jared Kushner bought the office tower in 2007 for a record-setting $1.8 billion. The building only generates about half its annual mortgage payment, and 30% of the space is vacant.