With North Korean soldiers standing less than 100 feet behind him at the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Vice President Mike Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash that Pyongyang should understand that the Trump administration’s approach toward the regime will be different than that of past US presidents.
“We’re going to abandon the failed policy of strategic patience. But we’re going to redouble our efforts to bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on North Korea. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peaceably,” Pence said in an exclusive interview. To achieve this new strategy, the administration is relying heavily on China, a country President Donald Trump spent his entire campaign railing against, but has since stopped as it became clear North Korea would be a top priority requiring China’s help.
“I know the President was heartened by his discussions with President Xi (Jinping). We’ve seen China begin to take some actions to bring pressure on North Korea but there needs to be more,” Pence said.
John Oliver: “Le Pen has already dangerously normalized the National Front. And one of the frustrating things about watching this unfold from America is this feels a little like déjà vu: a potentially destabilizing populist campaigning on anti-immigrant rhetoric who rages against the elite, despite having a powerful father and inherited wealth, even as all the experts reassure us that there is no way that this can possibly happen.”
Relatedly, the Washington Post reports that a communist is soaring in opinion polls: “In the latest plot twist in France’s highly contentious presidential election, Jean Luc Mélenchon — an outspoken 65-year-old leftist who often appears on the campaign trail via hologram and who has pitched his proposal to nationalize France’s biggest banks and renegotiate its relationship with the European Union via free Internet games and YouTube videos — is now soaring in the polls. With less than two weeks before the election, his meteoric and unexpected rise is already sending jitters through financial markets and shock waves through an increasingly anxious electorate.”
“The latest polls show him narrowly trailing Emmanuel Macron, long seen as the favorite, and Le Pen, expected to qualify for the final round of the two-round vote but to lose to Macron in the end. In the final days of a truly unprecedented campaign, Mélenchon’s unexpected surge is a reminder that radical change is in the air and that its extremist apostles — on the right or the left — may soon hold power.”
New York Times: “Justices interrupt one another all the time, and it may not be easy for the new justice to find his place and to raise his voice this week, when he hears his first arguments. But a new study suggests that Justice Gorsuch has two things going for him: He is conservative, and he is male.”
From the study: “Conservatives interrupt liberals at significantly higher rates than liberals interrupt conservatives.”
“And male justices, perhaps not surprisingly, interrupt female justices far more often than the other way around.”
Jonathan Swan: “As full-blown tax reform looks more and more like an unreachable stretch, there’s increasing conversation on the Hill about what’s being called a ‘candy option’ — all the goodies, with none of the pain.”
“That would mean lower personal and corporate rates, plus some limited repatriation, funded largely by deficit spending.”
“Speaker Ryan is still determined to go as big as possible and do real tax reform. But the White House needs to buy into it and get right behind it. Otherwise there’ll be the same disaster as healthcare.”
Meanwhile, Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Trump signaled last week that one of the reasons he has reprioritized health care is that he was relying on savings from the health bill to bolster the tax plan.”
“The budget reality isn’t that straightforward. Budgetary savings from a health bill don’t get plowed into the tax bill, so the lack of a health bill wouldn’t necessarily change the tax-bill math. There is also no requirement that the health bill come first. But the two pieces of legislation are interrelated because the GOP health bill would eliminate discrete taxes created as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, smoothing the process of passing a broader tax overhaul.”
David Nather: “Trump seems determined not to give up on the health care bill, so House Republicans keep plugging away in a desperate search for an agreement. As long as that continues, tax reform can’t move ahead.”
“President Trump has become a virtual homebody during his first few months in office, largely sitting out the honeymoon period that other presidents have used to hit the road and rally support for their priorities,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Trump, who dislikes spending the night away from home and has been adapting to life at the White House, has rarely ventured far from the Executive Mansion or his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida during his first 85 days in office.”
Jonathan Swan: “They’re playing tough in public — it’s called negotiating — but privately, senior White House officials are in no mood to get into a knock-down-drag-out fight over government funding.”
“The government runs out of money April 29, and the White House has less fire in its belly than it might seem from media reports. Around a week and a half ago, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney ‘came in a little hot’ in setting terms of negotiations with appropriators, according to a Senate source familiar with the meeting. Mulvaney said Trump needed language in the bill to cut funding to sanctuary cities.”
“The reality, according to three well-placed sources: These words are fairly toothless.”
Olivia Nuzzi: “Trump is dissatisfied and looking to assign blame for a first 100 days in office defined by humiliation and defeat, according to half a dozen sources I’ve spoken to in recent days. At any given moment, what irks him might be the death of the healthcare bill, or the early misstep on the travel ban, or, perhaps most painfully of all, the old media chatter that Bannon is, in the words of Time, ‘the great manipulator.’ Trump attempted to dispel the latter perception last week in a remark to the New York Post, denying Bannon credit for the election victory against Hillary Clinton (‘I’m my own strategist’)… Bannon also might be paying the price for press Trump believes, accurately or not, Bannon engineered: ‘He thinks Steve was leaking against Jared and Ivanka,’ the source said. ‘If I was trying to fuck Steve? That’s what I would do.’”
“White House sources tell me the ideological split with Kushner is real but not quite the point — Bannon’s primary ‘gunfight’ is with economic adviser Gary Cohn, a longtime Democrat whose influence has ballooned as Bannon has fallen out of favor with the president. The Goldman Sachs alums — Bannon was an investment banker there in ‘80s, Cohn was the COO until earlier this year — can comfortably ‘shoot the shit,’ but mutual suspicion looms beneath the superficial friendliness.”
A new Gallup poll finds just 45% of Americans say President Trump keeps his promises, down from 62% in February. The public is also less likely to see him as a “strong and decisive leader,” as someone who “can bring about the changes this country needs” or as “honest and trustworthy.”