The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal



Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and TGIF! Enjoy the long weekend folks, we’ll be back on Tuesday ... This daily email, a successor to The Hill’s Tipsheet, is reported by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger to get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!)

"Know when to walk away from the table." — Donald Trump, “The Art of the Deal”

The historic summit between President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, once scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, has been called off for now.

The two leaders appear to be testing one another, neither willing to lose face or the upper hand. Lines of communication are still open, but Trump’s decision to walk away raises two questions: What does Kim want? And what is Kim willing to risk to get it?

How did we get here?

In an alternately cordial and bellicose letter to “His Excellency,” Trump said that Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” persuaded him that a summit now was “inappropriate.” Among the reasons the White House cited for the withdrawal decision:

  • North Korea released a statement calling Vice President Pence a "political dummy." The Trump-Kim dialogue has been filled with name calling. Trump has called Kim “little rocket man” and Kim has called Trump “a mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” But North Korea’s statement also threatened to "make the U.S. taste an appalling tragedy," perceived as a reference to nuclear war. That seemed to be the deal breaker for Trump. “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” he responded. 

The Hill’s Jordan Fabian has a behind-the-scenes look here.

Now what?

These developments would seem to put an end to talk of a Trump-Kim summit, but the president’s letter to Kim — which the White House says the president penned himself — was diplomatic, even effusive. Trump called Kim’s decision to release three captive Americans from North Korea a “beautiful gesture,” adding, “Do not hesitate to call me or write.”

"It's possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date,” Trump told journalists during a bill signing just a few hours later.

By the numbers: The U.S.-North Korea drama began on April 19 and fell apart nearly five weeks later. Pompeo has now met Kim twice. Three Americans came home. Trump knows more than he did on April 18 about the complexities of the Korean Peninsula. The president remains open to a meeting, if the North Koreans are serious about verifiable denuclearization and ready to engage in talks about what the country would gain and give up.

The Hill: Five takeaways from Trump’s decision to quash the summit.

Bloomberg: North Korea expresses surprise at Trump’s decision and says the government remains willing to meet with the U.S. to discuss the pursuit of peace at any time. 

NBC News: Trump wanted to cancel before Kim Jong Un could. Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton at odds.

Reuters: South Koreans are angered by Trump’s cancellation of summit and fear opening for peace was lost. In Seoul today, university students and women’s rights activists protested in different rallies to denounce the U.S. president.



INVESTIGATIONS:  Washington was consumed on Thursday by classified briefings on the origins of the FBI investigation into Trump’s campaign.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesPelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left Jim Carrey targets McCarthy, Nunes ahead of midterms Police close Nunes district office as protesters rally outside MORE (R-Calif.) — with the backing of the White House — demanded and received a briefing from the FBI and Justice Department on the FBI informant who was in touch with several of Trump’s advisers during the campaign.

The president has said he was spied on for political reasons. Law enforcement insists the use of the informant was justified as part of a counterintelligence investigation.

The original briefing was arranged solely for a small group of GOP lawmakers and senior intelligence officials, but Democrats demanded they be included, and the number of participants quickly swelled.

The Associated Press: Briefing a sign of partisan distrust.

Top leaders from both parties in the House and Senate, along with the bipartisan leaders of the two Intelligence committees — the so-called Gang of Eight — were briefed over the course of two meetings.

White House lawyer Emmet Flood stopped by to plead for transparency. So, too, did White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE. Their presence annoyed Democrats.

“Never seen a Gang of Eight meeting that included any presence from the White House staff. Unusual times.” — Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Defense: Pentagon says Trump canceled parade before cost briefing | Erik Prince renews push for contractors to run Afghan war | More officials join outcry over security clearances Dem senator introduces proposal to rein in Trump on security clearances Schumer blasts Trump over security clearances: This happens in dictatorships MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel.

What came of the briefings?

More details will spill out in the coming days, but the immediate reaction was predictably partisan.

"Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols." — Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

“I look forward to the prompt completion of the Intelligence Committee’s oversight work in this area now that they are getting the cooperation necessary for them to complete their work while protecting sources and methods.” — Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKrystal Ball: GOP tax cut is 'opiate of the massively privileged' Top GOP lawmaker: Tax cuts will lower projected deficit GOP super PAC seizes on Ellison abuse allegations in ads targeting Dems MORE (R-Wis.).

Elsewhere in investigations — House Republicans set three FBI interviews in the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton to headline trio of DNC fundraisers: report Allegations of ‘Trump TV’ distract from real issues at Broadcasting Board of Governors Chelsea Clinton: Politics a 'definite maybe' in the future MORE probe (The Hill) … Longtime Trump adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneOnly courts can rein in 'King Rosenstein' Hillicon Valley: Omarosa drops bombshell claim about Trump, WikiLeaks | Dems turn up heat over fake FCC cyberattack | Uber hires ex-NSA official to improve security | FBI boosts cyber team Omarosa claims Trump knew about hacked emails prior to WikiLeaks release MORE sought information on Clinton from Julian Assange (The Wall Street Journal)… Trump’s then-lawyers discussed the possibility of a January interview with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE at Camp David (CNN)… Poll finds public wants the Mueller probe to wrap up soon (The Hill).


CONGRESS: The endgame on immigration is approaching. As early as next month, House leaders will have to reckon with the movement by GOP centrists to force a vote on immigration against Speaker Ryan’s wishes. Two more Republican lawmakers signed their names to a discharge petition on Thursday, leaving renegade lawmakers only five signatures short of being able to go around Ryan and bring immigration legislation to the floor. The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong have the details.

A new measure approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee would force U.S. technology companies to disclose if they allow foreign interests, including from Russia and China, to hunt for software vulnerabilities inside the federal government, according to Reuters.

The Hill: The Senate approved a new policy for handling sexual harassment complaints in Congress, and sent the bill to the House, which passed its own measure months ago.

>The New York Times: Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie mogul, is expected to surrender to investigators in Manhattan today and face sexual assault charges after a months-long inquiry into allegations by numerous women.

>CNN: At least eight women accuse Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. Freeman on Thursday apologized to anyone who may have felt “uncomfortable or disrespected” by his behavior.


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INTERNATIONAL: China: The Hill: Senate Republicans are pushing back against Trump’s proposed tariffs on imported vehicles. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Health Care: Azar defends approach on drug rebates | Trump presses Senate to act quickly on opioid crisis | Kentucky governor's Medicaid lawsuit tossed Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Dem lawmaker calls Trump racist in response to 'dog' comment MORE (R-Utah) called the president’s floated idea of auto tariffs “deeply misguided.”

Bloomberg: A turbulent week for Trump's trade tactics puts the world on edge. Over five days, the U.S. called off a trade war with China, cast doubt over the framework of talks with Beijing, and threatened tariffs on car and truck imports to protect national security. The president’s repeated trade threats have led to market jitters, but the economic impact has been limited.

Reuters: China scolds U.S. for withdrawing invitation to naval drills.

 WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The Hill: Trump gave a posthumous pardon to the first black heavyweight champion boxer, Jack Johnson, while offering credit to actor Sylvester Stallone for bringing the case to his attention. An all-white jury convicted the boxer in 1913 of transporting a white woman across state lines.

The Hill: Trump signed the first significant rollback of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, enacting a plank from his 2016 platform and responding to financial institutions that sought to ease some federal requirements.

Bloomberg: Profile of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOvernight Defense: Pentagon says Trump canceled parade before cost briefing | Erik Prince renews push for contractors to run Afghan war | More officials join outcry over security clearances On The Money: Trump 'not thrilled' at Fed chief's interest rate hikes | Trump says no concessions on Turkey tariffs | Why time is running out for NAFTA talks Mulvaney asking Trump officials to help company under pressure due to tariffs MORE, who also heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). “We are still [Massachusetts Sen.] Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care: Azar defends approach on drug rebates | Trump presses Senate to act quickly on opioid crisis | Kentucky governor's Medicaid lawsuit tossed Trump lauds ICE at White House event Trump calls for public officials to praise ICE, Border Patrol agents MORE’s child,” he laments. “As long as we’re identified with that one person, we’ll never be taken as seriously as a regulator, as we should.”

Bloomberg: The Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation into potential bitcoin price manipulation.

FBI: The government launched a new “think before you post” campaign to educate and warn the public about communicating hoax threats online.

The New York Times: The federal director of prisons quietly resigned this week because of what has been described as an ideological turf battle over prison reforms that pitted White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump tweets raise questions about why Manafort jury isn't sequestered The Hill's Morning Report — Trump showcases ICE ahead of midterm elections Axios: Trump said one-state solution would mean future Israeli PM would be named Mohammed MORE against Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump indicates he's leaning against Mueller sit-down Trump rattled by White House counsel's cooperation with Mueller: report Falwell Jr. killed student newspaper articles critical of Trump: report MORE and the Justice Department. Mark Inch held the job for nine months.

The Hill: Environmental Protection Agency grapples with potential health threat to drinking water. The president issued a directive Thursday to federal departments ordering a review of licensing of commercial space flight launch and re-entry operations.


The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley & Alexis Simendinger Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



Trump won't be Charlie Brown to Kim's Lucy with the football, by Michael Auslin, opinion contributor with The Hill.

Why I fight for protecting immigrant students and the future of the nation, by Rep. Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralDem lawmaker to lead vigil in New York park following anti-immigrant rally Gillibrand: 'We should get rid of ICE' if Dems flip House and Senate NAACP statehood statement leaves Puerto Ricans perplexed MORE (D-N.Y.), opinion contributor to The Hill.


Congress is in recess until the week of June 4. 

President Trump delivers the commencement and commissioning address this morning at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Later, he will meet at the White House with Secretary of State Pompeo.

Vice President Pence and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump tries to rescue Ohio House seat as GOP midterm fears grow The Hill's Morning Report — Obama’s return sets up heavyweight fight with Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE will participate in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors’ (TAPS) survivor seminar and “Good Grief Camp” in Crystal City, Va. They will join survivors during an art therapy session followed by the vice president’s keynote remarks. The TAPS Good Grief Camp brings together 500 children with mentors over the Memorial Day weekend.


> George Conway’s tweets raise West Wing eyebrows, by Annie Karni, Politico magazine

> Europe’s tough new data privacy rules take effect today. BBC News explains how the law impacts any organization handling personal information linked to residents of the European Union. The Hill’s Harper Neidig and Morgan Chalfant report that tech companies are scrambling to avoid steep penalties from new regulations and users in the United States and elsewhere have been bombarded with online notices about Europe’s privacy laws.

> Companies find ways to get employees to toil for hours without pay, a trend known as "time theft," according to a new study that estimates that workers forfeit billions of dollars in compensation per year, by Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia, NPR’s Planet Money.


We have WINNERS with this week’s Morning Report’s quiz contest! We received some smart guesses, and Mary Vita P. Treano and Sandy Sycafoose correctly identified Betty White from Thursday’s multiple choice quiz list as the actor/performer who has never portrayed a U.S. vice president for film or television. (Some readers thought conservative commentator and writer Ann Coulter had to be the correct answer, but surprise!, she played Vice President Sonia Buck in 2015’s “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!”)

And finally, hoorah … it’s Memorial Day weekend and 41.5 million people (perhaps some of you) will be traveling somewhere, 5 percent more people in-transit than last year, according to AAA. Getaways will be more crowded and more expensive (think the highest gasoline pump prices since 2014 and rising air fares to some locations). But those-in-the-know suggest Americans this year are shrugging off wallet worries. … And don’t forget a bit of history: Memorial Day originated as “Decoration Day” in 1868 in the wake of the Civil War, a way to honor those who died while serving in the U.S. military. It’s been an official federal holiday since 1971. So, salute the flag and the fallen, and enjoy a long weekend!


Library of Congress image, Puck cartoon 1883, screen grab from library holdings