Former North Korean Diplomat Warns of Deception at Hanoi Summit

Trump should push Kim to rejoin nuclear nonproliferation treaty, ex-official says

The highest-ranking North Korean official to defect in recent years said the U.S. should press Pyongyang to rejoin the nuclear nonproliferation treaty as a step toward denuclearization and warned that the North would try to deceive Washington by offering hollow concessions when the two sides meet next week.

Thae Yong Ho, a senior North Korean diplomat until 2016, said that pledging to rejoin the treaty would help commit Pyongyang to disarmament, as the agreement obliges signatories to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons and mandates inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. North Korea, which withdrew from the treaty in 2003, isn’t recognized as a nuclear state by the international community, though it has tested six nuclear weapons.

.. Mr. Thae said that North Korea would likely offer to shut its Yongbyon complex—used to enrich material needed to build nuclear weapons—and allow international inspectors to verify its closure in return for partial sanctions relief. But agreeing to this would be a mistake, he warned.

There are 390 nuclear facilities [inside the Yongbyon complex]. Even if there is an agreement, the act of inspecting, dismantling, then verifying the facilities’ closure won’t be completed within President Trump’s term,” he told a news conference.

In the meantime, North Korea could keep its arsenal while gaining an immediate reprieve from sanctions. The North Koreans know this, and that’s why they’re dangling Yongbyon, he said.

Mr. Thae was North Korea’s deputy ambassador to London when he defected with his family to South Korea. He worked with the top leadership in Pyongyang, including the foreign minister, and was once filmed accompanying Mr. Kim’s older brother, Kim Jong Chol, to an Eric Clapton concert. He published a memoir last year detailing North Korea’s negotiating strategies.

.. Mr. Thae likened the Kim regime to an unscrupulous used-car salesperson, saying it would try to deceive U.S. negotiators by offering to give up things it didn’t really need, such as some of its intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“They’re going to repaint their broken-down car, make it look new, and then sell it,” he said.

.. A former North Korean official who defected to the South in the 1990s said that the Yongbyon nuclear complex suffered frequent radiation leaks and that workers couldn’t stay there beyond six months.

Trump Adviser Roger Stone Now Recalls 2016 Meeting With Russian

Disclosure comes as president’s personal lawyer renews push for Justice Department to investigate Russia probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into a meeting between longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone and a Russian national during the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Mr. Stone’s friend Michael Caputo, who is a witness in the probe.

Mr. Stone didn’t disclose the meeting, which he says was prompted by an offer of information detrimental to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in his testimony before congressional investigators in September. He is now alerting House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) about it.

.. Mr. Stone’s attorney said the Republican strategist had a “recently refreshed recollection” of the encounter after Mr. Caputo, a former Trump aide who helped arrange the May 2016 meeting, was questioned by Mr. Mueller’s office last month.
.. the Russian man claimed “access to non-specific, damaging Clinton information which he wanted to sell.” He also added that his client declined to pay the $2 million requested
.. he and Mr. Caputo now say they believe it was part of a sting operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
.. the Russian went by the name Henry Greenberg and that he has a history of working as an FBI informant. Mr. Caputo cited research about the man’s background and alleged ties to U.S. intelligence. The research was commissioned and paid for by Mr. Caputo’s legal defense fund
.. “Few of the Trump team witnesses have proved worthy of being taken at their word,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.), who serves on the House Intelligence Committee. The revelation about the meeting between Mr. Stone and the Russian national “proves how irresponsible it was for the House Republicans to wrap up our investigation and say nothing to see here,’” Mr. Swalwell said.

Psychos on the Potomac

A new study from Southern Methodist University says the nation’s capital has more psychopaths per person than anyplace else in the country.

No surprise there.

.. The study notes that “psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere” and that “the occupations that were most disproportionately psychopathic were

  • C.E.O.,
  • lawyer,
  • media,
  • salesperson,
  • surgeon,
  • journalist,
  • police officer,
  • clergyperson,
  • chef, and
  • civil servant.”

.. So if a chief executive, salesman and media personality becomes a politician, he’s hitting four of the highest-risk categories.

.. Next came the soul-deadening inversion of American values, when Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited the Bible to justify ripping children from their parents at the border — including a baby being breast-fed by her Honduran mother. The Statue of Liberty wept.

.. Sessions is on a vile tear. A week ago, he vitiated the policy that made it possible to give asylum to women who are victims of domestic abuse or who are raped or threatened by the sort of gang members Trump decries as “animals.”

.. The week was capped, naturally, with a Giuliani aria — “When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,” Rudy told The Daily News in New York — and by the usual torrent of whiny, delusional, deceptive, self-exalting tweets by President Trump.

.. We knew Trump was a skinflint and a grifter. But the New York attorney general deeply documented just how cheesy he and his children are with a suit accusing the Trump charitable foundation of illegal behavior and self-dealing. It was just what Trump always accused the Clintons of doing.

.. The supposed nonprofit was little more than a Trump piggy bank used to settle legal claims and pay off political backers. The good news for Trump was that the prosecutor proposed that he be banned from charitable activities — a fine excuse for someone who obviously wants nothing to do with charity.

.. He has somehow managed to get Republicans in a position where they are cooing over his overtures to North Korea — overtures for which they would have impeached Barack Obama — and looking the other way while he upends the free trade policy that has been party dogma for decades. Meanwhile, the usually peacenik Democrats are assailing Trump for deigning to talk nice with Kim.

.. It makes sense if you think about it: A wannabe dictator who took over the family business from a dictatorial father talking to a real dictator who took over the family business from a dictatorial father.

 

Trump’s rhetorical schizophrenia is easy to see through

And so, on one day, we had an unhinged and divisive rant by President Trump in Phoenix. Then, the next day in Reno, Nev., a call for national unity and reconciliation. Multiple political personality disorder. Rhetorical schizophrenia.

The gap between Trump extemporaneous and Trump scripted is canyon-like. The normal role of a speechwriter is to find, refine and elevate the voice of a leader. The greatest professional victory comes when a president thinks: This is the way I would sound if I had more time to write and more talent with language. In these circumstances, speechwriting is not deception; it is amplification.

.. But what about speechwriting that is designed to give a leader a different voice? Here moral issues begin to lurk. Is it ethical to make a cynical leader appear principled? A violent leader seem pacific? A cruel leader seem compassionate?

.. Or maybe a speechwriter can hope a president will eventually rise to the level of his teleprompter.

.. he plays rhetorical games with the artificial (for him) constraints of being presidential. “Nobody wants me to talk about your other senator — who’s weak on borders, weak on crime,” he said of (conservative Republican) Jeff Flake. “Now everybody’s happy.” Here the “nobody” clearly included his own concerned advisers. Trump often uses speeches (and Twitter) to cut the strings of their counsel.
  • .. So it was the real voice that we heard in Phoenix, attacking a man with brain cancer — Republican Sen. John McCain — without any wish for his recovery.
  • The real voice defending a supporter who had been fired by CNN for writing “Sieg Heil” on Twitter.
  • The real voice making fun of a TV anchor’s height. The real voice again widening racial divisions by defending Confederate monuments as “our history and our heritage.
  • It was the real voice expressing greater passion in criticizing journalists than white supremacists.

.. his transparency reveals a disordered personality.

his Phoenix remarks indicate a loose connection to reality.

  • His response to the violence in Charlottesville was, in his view, “perfect.”
  • The North Koreans, he claimed, are learning to “respect” America (for which there is no evidence).
  • “I don’t believe that any president has accomplished as much as this president in the first six or seven months,” Trump claimed of himself. “I really do not believe it.”

What if Trump really believes what he claims? Then he would be not deceptive, but deluded.

.. Trump is not merely acting unpresidential; he is erratic and grandiose.

On the evidence of the Phoenix speech, Trump believes that a government shutdown is preferable to giving up on funding for the southern border wall. This involves a different type of delusion. Poll after poll demonstrates that about 35 percent of Americans support Trump’s wall. You can’t hold national parks and veterans’ payments hostage over an issue like this and expect to win.

..  “It also takes careful management of the levers available to the administration in a shutdown to keep it from becoming a nightmare immediately, and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] is not doing the work to prepare. Incompetence is the death of these guys over and over.”

.. The unified control of House, Senate and presidency means little when the president lives in a reality of his own.