Usually, the long-distance encounters between the White House press corps and President Trump are less than insightful: “Mr. President, have you boinked any porn stars this week? Follow up: Do you have video?”
Yesterday was a bit different. Last night, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago and this happened.
Here is my pool report on what Trump said when asked by reporters if he has spoken directly with Kim Jong Un pic.twitter.com/rXMPSzDVVZ
— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) April 17, 2018
Even though the White House quickly walked this back:
BREAKING: White House: Trump has not spoken directly with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, but talks have been held at 'highest levels.'
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 17, 2018
It was clear that something BIG happened. And this morning, the Washington Post delivered:
CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a top-secret visit to North Korea as an envoy for President Trump to meet with Kim Jong Un, and plans for a possible summit between the two leaders are underway, Trump confirmed Wednesday.
The extraordinary meeting between one of Trump’s most trusted emissaries and the authoritarian head of a rogue state was part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Trump and Kim about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
The clandestine mission came late last month, soon after Pompeo was nominated to be secretary of state. The Pompeo mission was first reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, citing two people with direct knowledge of the trip.
The White House press operation was caught flat-footed:
But Trump was not:
Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
Of course, this verification brought out the sheer dickishness of some members of the press corps:
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) April 18, 2018
And a lot more petulant dickishness by Democrats. This was Connecticut’s Chris Murphy on Morning Joe.
Murphy gave an interview to Morning Joe on Wednesday, where he was asked about the president’s tweet confirming that Mike Pompeo has spoken to Kim Jong Un about their proposed summit. When asked if he seriously thinks North Korean denuclearization is an actual possibility, Murphy said that even though he’s glad to hear about the diplomatic preparations, he’s not so sure anything good will come out of it.
Murphy was doubly concerned since Trump is surrounded by hawkish advisers who he thinks will recommend military action if talks go south.
“I’m very worried that this summit going to go badly and then surrounded by hawks like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, the president is going to be convinced that diplomacy has failed and the only option left is military action.”
This really confuses me … I thought diplomacy & direct engagement with Kim Jong Un was what everyone was begging Trump to do rather than military intervention. Now that Trump has possibly succeeded in what they wished for they still aren't the least bit satisfied https://t.co/5YV7EgfkRW
— NorthKoreaRealTime (@BuckTurgidson79) April 18, 2018
Bill Kristol and his posse haven’t weighed in yet, but I suspect the response will look very similar.
This is the first meeting by a US cabinet-level official since Madeleine Albright met with Kim Jong Il in October 2000.
The fact that our rep was a hard-core, North Korea skeptic like Pompeo gives me more confidence that we’re going into this with our eyes open and not with a lot of childlike awe and wonder. And if we can’t get what we want out of the deal we should walk away. In fact, the only way this meeting has any chance of being successful is if Kim Jong Un knows that this is our best and final offer.