Trump's North Korea frustrations

"Inside Politics" reporters share early headlines including Trump frustrated by N. Korea, Russia & the effect on midterms, Kavanaugh on executive power, Kelly's one-year work anniversary and Bob Dole's 95th birthday lesson.

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 4:39 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 5:17 PM

Here are the stories our D.C. insiders are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1. Trump is fuming over pace of North Korea talks

Less than six weeks after the summit in Singapore, President Trump is growing impatient with the pace of talks on denuclearization.

North Korean officials have canceled follow-up meetings and haven't dismantled a missile testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed.

The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey reports that Trump has been asking for daily updates on the status of negotiations and has privately fumed at aides even as he publicly tweets about how well talks are going.

"He said everyone can sleep well at night and he basically declared peace on the peninsula, but that's obviously not been the case," Dawsey said on CNN Sunday.

Trump "has made all these grandiose claims about what's happened in North Korea, but on the ground it seems little has happened so far."

2. Trump-Putin criticism energizes Democrats

Meanwhile, Republicans say they're fine with how President Trump handled his summit with Vladimir Putin, despite bipartisan criticism from members of Congress.

A new Washington Post poll shows that two-thirds of GOP voters approve of how the meeting in Helsinki went. But Associated Press reporter Lisa Lerer says that negative headlines about the summit are energizing Democrats.

"Obviously they're opposed to what the president's done, but these constant walkbacks and controversies are providing these weekly shots of adrenaline for the Democratic base," said Lerer, who traveled recently to a battleground district in Virginia to talk to voters.

"They have a Tea Party congressman up against a Democrat who was an undercover CIA officer," Lerer said. Republicans "are a little bit nervous about that race, and if they're nervous about that race, it looks far worse for districts that are much tighter."

3. Kavanaugh's views on executive power

We learned more this week about some of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's legal views -- particularly when it comes to executive power. Democrats have warned that if any part of the Mueller investigation ends up at the high court, Kavanaugh could vote to protect the president.

CNN's Manu Raju reports that new documents have come to light showing Kavanaugh argued against a unanimous 1974 Supreme Court ruling ordering President Richard Nixon to turn over the secret Watergate tapes that quickly led to his resignation. Kavanaugh also has argued that only Congress should have the power to investigate the president.

"Ultimately, the question is going to be, how does he view the Mueller investigation?" Raju said.

Democrats want to know more about the nominee's views before his conformation hearing and are demanding the release of more documents they hope will shed light on Kavanaugh's thinking.

"The other big question is how many more documents he's going to submit to the Senate Judiciary Committee from when he was at the George W. Bush White House," Raju said. "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told me he's only going to ask for, quote, 'relevant documents.' Democrats want all of them, so that's going to be another big fight going forward."

4. John Kelly's anniversary

Next weekend marks one year since John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff. It's anyone's guess how much longer he'll last.

Politico's Eliana Johnson reports the past 12 months have been a learning experience for the retired general.

"I think we have to say that if John Kelly went in with any illusion that he could tame this president, he no longer has that illusion," Johnson said. "There are people who can work with this president, but nobody who can change him."

5. Happy birthday to Bob Dole

And from CNN's John King:

I want to close by wishing happy birthday to an American hero I first met in snowy Iowa, 30 years ago, eight presidential campaigns ago. Senator Bob Dole is 95 today -- that is a remarkable achievement, especially for a son of Kansas wounded and left for dead on an Italian hillside back in 1945.

If you don't know his story, I suggest you study it. We can all learn a humbling lesson from 70-plus years of living in constant pain but always putting country and service first. It is a story that yes, includes asking the media "where is the outrage" about Bill Clinton, but not once calling the media the enemy of the state. And a story that includes many, many sharp partisan battles. But not one breath spent attacking the institutions that make America great.

Our president, I'm told, plans a happy birthday tweet to Senator Dole today. It would be a much better gift if he would take time to study how this great American went about his business.

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