Speed Reads

North Korea

Trump's advisers insist there's a strategy behind his Kim Jong Un meeting

On Sunday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and other advisers to President Trump "argued that his surprise decision to agree to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was less impulsive than it appeared to U.S. allies and members of Congress," The Wall Street Journal reports, and suggested it "had been made in line with a broader strategy of combating the North Korean nuclear threat." On Friday, the Journal reported that Trump "interrupted a trio of South Korean officials" to agree to the meeting:

"Okay, okay," Mr. Trump said, cutting short the discussion. "Tell them I'll do it." The South Korean officials looked at each other as if in disbelief, according to a White House official with knowledge of the meeting, as Mr. Trump continued. He would become the first sitting U.S. president to meet a North Korean leader, if Mr. Kim was sincere and understood the terms. "Tell him yes," the president said. [The Wall Street Journal]

On Fox News Sunday, Pompeo said Trump had offered Kim "nothing" for the summit, and argued that while other presidents turned down invitations to meet with Kim and his late father, Kim Jong Il, Trump agreed from a position of unprecedented strength. "Never before have we had the North Koreans in a position where their economy was at such risk and where their leadership was under such pressure that they would begin conversations on the terms that Kim Jong Un has conceded to," Pompeo said, telling CBS's Face the Nation that even Trump's tweeted insults to Kim were based on intelligence briefings of how Kim "might react and how North Korea might respond."

"It is hard to differentiate the way Trump has treated Kim on Twitter ... from the way he mocks most adversaries, including the news media and political opponents," The Washington Post observes, adding that Pompeo "has built a bond with Trump in part by reliably praising the president in public."