The Week on Planet Trump: Standoff with Kim Puts Summit in Limbo

Monday: Deadline Set for Obstruction Inquiry

The special counsel hopes to finish by Sept. 1 the investigation into whether President Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry, according to the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said on Sunday that waiting any longer would risk improperly influencing voters in November’s midterm elections.

Mr. Giuliani said that the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, shared its timeline about two weeks ago amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators, adding that Mr. Mueller’s office said that the date was contingent on Mr. Trump’s sitting for an interview. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Wrapping up the obstruction case would not signal the end of Mr. Mueller’s work. That is one piece of his broader inquiry, a counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates coordinated with it. Counterintelligence investigations are used to gather information quietly about the activities of foreign powers and their agents — sometimes for years — and can result in criminal charges.

Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times

Tuesday: China Concessions Avert Trade War

President Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets Monday morning to defend against criticism that he’s being too soft on China when it comes to trade.

“Why didn’t President Obama & the Democrats do something about Trade with China, including Theft of Intellectual Property etc.? They did NOTHING!” Trump tweeted. “Fair Trade, plus, with China will happen!”

Trump is on the defensive because experts, pundits, manufacturing advocates, and at least one lawmaker from his own party have suggested that Trump may have conceded too much too quickly to the Chinese during trade negotiations.

The US and China put out a joint statement on Saturday after their second round of trade talks. The talks were intended to get China to cease unfair trade practices it uses against the US and to reduce the US-Chinese trade deficit — and to sort out those differences without sliding into a trade war.

The joint statement said, among other things, that China would increase its purchase of US energy and agricultural goods and that China would change its intellectual property practices.

Zeeshan Aleem, Vox

Wednesday: Korean Thaw Freezes with Xi Meeting

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that there's a "substantial" chance that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "may not work out" for June.

Last week, North Korea said it would reconsider whether to hold the meeting after abruptly canceling talks with South Korea amid joint military drills with the U.S. on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump also suggested that Kim soured on the idea of a potential summit after the North Korean leader had a second secret meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"There was a somewhat different attitude after that meeting," the U.S. president said of Kim. "I can't say that I'm happy about it."

In his remarks Tuesday, Trump did say that he believes Kim is "absolutely very serious" about denuclearization. The Trump administration has made it clear that it wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Mike Calia, CNBC

Thursday: Applause for “Animals” Rhetoric

President Trump said Wednesday his administration is considering a plan to cut foreign aid to countries that do not help stem the flow of immigrants entering the United States illegally.

"Many of these countries we give tremendous amounts of aid to — tens of millions of dollars,” Trump said during a discussion on Long Island, N.Y., focused on the MS-13 gang.

“We're working on a plan to deduct a lot of the aid," the president said. “Every time someone comes in from a certain country, we're going to deduct a rather large amount of money from what we give them.”

The president also used the forum to double-down on controversial rhetoric he used last week during a conversation about immigrants. The White House has touted the president’s use of the term “animals” in the discussion, and has criticized those who questioned it.

Trump has said he was using the word to describe members of international gangs like MS-13, not all immigrants.

“I called them ‘animals’ the other day and I was met with rebuke,” Trump said to applause. “They said, ‘they’re people.’ They’re not people. They’re animals. We have to be very, very tough.”

John Fritze, USA Today

Friday: NFL Caves on Anthem Protests

President Donald Trump praised NFL team owners for doing the "right thing" in requiring NFL players to stand during the National Anthem this season, and suggested those who don't stand maybe "shouldn't be in the country."

n 2016, Colin Kaepernick, a San Francisco 49ers quarterback at the time, drew national attention for refusing to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner," saying he would not honor a song nor "show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

It led Trump to suggest during a rally last September that owners should fire their players for taking a knee during the anthem, inserting himself into a national controversy over race and the right to protest.

Asked if his voice prompted the NFL rule change, Trump credited "the people" rather than himself.

Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Saturday: Democrats Blamed for Child Separations

President Trumpon Saturday called for an end to his administration's policy of separating immigrant families at the border for legal prosecution, blaming Democrats for inaction on immigration policy.

"Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS," Trump tweeted.

A Trump administration policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this month mandates the prosecution of adults separately from children when families arrive at the U.S. border seeking asylum.

“If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions said. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you, as required by law.”

Josh Delk, The Hill

Sunday: Moon Seeks to Save Summit

Hours after a surprise meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas aimed at shoring up diplomacy, President Trump seemed to keep hope alive for a summit with Kim Jong Un to go ahead as planned on June 12 in Singapore.

Speaking at the White House Saturday evening, Trump said plans for the summit were "going along very well." He said meetings were ongoing and that the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula "would be a great thing for North Korea."

South Korea's presidential Blue House announced earlier Saturday that President Moon Jae-in had held a secret meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an effort to keep diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang alive.

South Korea, a longtime U.S. ally, was not notified before Trump's letter canceling with Kim was made public on Thursday. But Moon has continued in recent days to hope the summit still comes to pass.

Moon's office said a press conference is set for Sunday morning in Seoul. Photos released by the Blue House show Kim and Moon hugging and Kim's propaganda chief and sister, Kim Yo Jong, greeting Moon.

Elise Hu, NPR

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