Stormy Daniels, it turns out, is no Kim Jong Un. She cannot get President Donald Trump to take the bait, but the North Korean leader appears to have mastered that task.
The porn actress, who says she had a consensual sexual encounter with then-reality show star Trump and was later threatened and paid to remain silent, cannot seem to bait Trump into responding to her Sunday “60 Minutes” interview, which raised campaign finance violation questions.
Trump has gone dark and — if he stays out of range of reporters’ questions about the porn actress, writer and director for a third consecutive day — perhaps officially underground. Rarely in his 15-month-old presidency has he not faced questions from reporters in some forum. But according to his Wednesday schedule released by the White House, he is on track to do just that in the wake of Daniels’ interview, which was viewed by 22 million people.
The North Korean leader has had more luck. His surprise visit to China this week got Trump’s full attention.
In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump said he heard the secretive visit “went very well,” adding that Chinese President Xi Jinping passed along a special message from Kim. The supreme leader “looks forward to his meeting with me” about his nuclear arms and long-range missile programs, Trump wrote.
Received message last night from XI JINPING of China that his meeting with KIM JONG UN went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me. In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
Senior White House officials say no date or location for the once-unthinkable Trump-Kim summit have been selected, and it appears direct contact with the North Korean government still has not occurred since Trump accepted Kim’s invitation for face-to-face meetings 20 days ago.
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As Xi’s message shows, his government has been among those acting as a go-between for Washington and Pyongyang. And some foreign policy experts say Beijing or another Chinese city could be a top candidate to host Trump and Kim, largely because the North Korean leader would likely feel comfortable there.
As planning for that high-stakes meeting continues, Trump reiterated his warning to Kim that until those talks convene and the U.S. government is convinced North Korea is dismantling its weapons programs, “unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!”
In another tweet, Trump — who for months derisively called Kim “Little Rocket Man” and “a madman” — was upbeat about the potential meeting with the North Korean leader.
He wrote “there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity,” adding, “Look forward to our meeting!”
For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
In short, Trump views talks with a man he once threatened to attack — possibly with U.S. nuclear weapons — as a positive for him. But he views rebutting the claims of a porn actress who legal experts say is a less-than-credible witness as a negative.
Meanwhile, the president also fired off a separate tweet Wednesday morning for his conservative base, trying to reassure them that their right to possess guns will not be stripped.
To drive home his point, the president started the post with all capital letters: “THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED!” He then added that Democratic lawmakers “would like to see this happen.”
THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
The GOP president’s response? “NO WAY,” he wrote, then urging gun enthusiasts to vote in November. “We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!”
A number of political analysts are predicting a “blue wave” this fall that could hand Democrats control of the House. The president himself has even publicly mused that his popularity in some parts of the country might not be transferable to Republican congressional candidates.