June 13, 2018
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When President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un sat down for a meeting Tuesday morning, no one was present except for translators. The agreement each leader signed provides some insight on the substance of the historic meeting, but there's no way to be completely sure what the two discussed.

North Korean state media is saying that Trump agreed to lift economic sanctions against the country, reports Reuters. The agreement Trump signed doesn't make any such promise.

Perhaps in an effort to make the summit look like a win for Kim, North Korea's official KCNA news agency reported that Trump promised to provide security guarantees, no strings attached. This pledge supposedly came in addition to ending the U.S.'s joint military exercises with South Korea, something Trump really did agree to. In a further boon for Kim, KCNA says that Trump only asked Kim to begin a vague "step-by-step" denuclearization process, and that Kim only agreed to it if "the U.S. side takes genuine measures for building trust."

Critics say that Trump conceded too much to Kim during the summit, like the cessation of military drills and his failure to demand that Kim improve his track record on human rights. Trump has hailed the meeting as a major success, saying he got everything he wanted from the summit — and apparently, so has Kim. Summer Meza

9:48 a.m. ET

Omarosa Manigault Newman's Unhinged publicity tour has spilled a bit of sunlight on President Trump's compulsory use of nondisclosure agreements on his campaign and in the White House. On Tuesday, the Trump re-election campaign filed for arbitration, arguing Manigault Newman breached the NDA she signed when she joined the campaign in 2016. She says she did not sign an apparently unprecedented and likely unconstitutional NDA at the White House, but other White House officials were more coy, including White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

A former White House and Trump campaign staffer tells The Weekly Standard that even lower-level White House recruits "had to sign them when we went into the building," summarizing the NDA as "straight-up 'No talking bad about Trump or his family.'" It was "snuck in with" other "actual forms you had to sign for the legitimate process of being onboarded," the former staffer said, and unusually, "everything got taken away as soon as we signed it."

On MSNBC, Trump campaign spokesman Marc Lotter said he signed NDAs to work at the White House and on both Trump campaigns, and they obligated him to refrain from saying disparaging things about Trump, his family, Vice President Mike Pence and his family, and any Trump or Pence businesses forever. Katy Tur asked the obvious question: "Say something happened while you were there that horrified you or appalled you or you felt was illegal, etc., and you left and you signed an NDA, you can't talk about it. So again, why should we trust anything you say when you're legally bound to say good things about the person you're coming on to talk about?"

The White House NDA is probably unenforceable, but as you watch current and former Trump campaign and White House officials on television, it's probably worth remembering that they all at least nominally signed away their right to criticize Trump in perpetuity — and Trump takes his NDAs seriously. Peter Weber

8:37 a.m. ET

President Trump may have revoked former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance on Wednesday, but he did not take away his ability to write or his audience for presumably informed criticism of Trump's actions. In an op-ed in The New York Times on Thursday, Brennan touches on Russia's contemporaneous denials that it was interfering in the 2016 election — "Russian denials are, in a word, hogwash" — and explains how Trump's public encouragement for Russia to hack and disseminate Hillary Clinton's emails made the CIA and FBI's job of stopping Russian election-tampering much harder:

Such a public clarion call certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do — and what they actually did — to win the election. While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press — of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.

Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash. The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of "Trump Incorporated" attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets. [John Brennan, The New York Times]

Brennan then tied up the loose ends: "Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him." Trump himself suggested to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he revoked Brennan's security clearance because of the Trump-Russia investigation. You can read Brennan's entire op-ed at The New York Times. Peter Weber

6:36 a.m. ET
Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

In Geneva on Tuesday, a U.S. State Department official warned a United Nations disarmament conference that Russia has launched a purported "space apparatus inspector" whose "very abnormal behavior" is "of great concern" to the U.S. government. "We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it," said Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance. "But Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development," especially given America's "concerns over many years that the Russian Federation is actively pursuing the development and deployment of anti-satellite weapons."

Alexander Deyneko, a senior Russian diplomat, told Reuters that Poblete's comments were "the same unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions, on suppositions, and so on," and suggested the U.S. join Russia and China in developing a treaty to prevent an arms race in space. ("The United States has clearly articulated the many flaws of this draft treaty," Poblete said in her speech, and Russia's "hollow and hypocritical efforts are not the answer" given its routine violations of easier-to-verify arms treaties.)

Space weapons like "lasers or microwave frequencies that could just stop [a satellite] working for a time, either disable it permanently without destroying it or disrupt it via jamming," are a real concern, Royal United Services Institute analyst Alexandra Stickings tells BBC News. And they would be hard to differentiate from other satellites. But the Trump administration may not be in the best position to complain, after President Trump ordered a new military Space Force branch, she added. "The narrative coming from the U.S. is, 'Space was really peaceful, now look at what the Russians and Chinese are doing' — ignoring the fact that the U.S. has developed its own capabilities." Peter Weber

5:26 a.m. ET

"Arguably the worst proof of abuse by the Catholic Church to date" was just released, in a 900-page Pennsylvania grand jury report, "and it isn't getting a lot of attention," CNN's Chris Cuomo said Wednesday night. "Isn't that a scary thought? In fact, it could be argued I should be talking about Omarosa or pulling clearances right now instead of this story, but I think that's really wrong. I think there's time for everything that matters, and this really does." The report listed 300 predator priests who victimized more than 1,000 children dating back to the 1940s, "and yes, the church — my church — covered it up," Cuomo said. "Are we really over the abuse of children? Is it because the details are so terrible?" He sketched out some details.

But mostly, Cuomo wanted to talk about changing statute of limitations laws so abuse victims can get justice — in Pennsylvania, New York, and elsewhere. Many of the priests named in the report "are dead, and maybe their punishment in the next life will be worse than anything that could be meted out here as justice," he said. "But as for the living, under law right now," the survivors of abuse almost never get justice. He made his case for changing the laws, comparing how we view justice for sex abuse victims against the death penalty.

"Look, we know organizations, even religious ones, will protect themselves, even if it means they're going to victimize children in the process," Cuomo said. "That's where the law comes in. That's where you come in." He had some suggestions for how to vote. As luck would have it, Cuomo's brother, the New York governor, is already on board. Peter Weber

4:45 a.m. ET

Paul Manafort, former big-time political consultant to oligarchs and volunteer campaign chairman for President Trump, may not have mounted much of a defense in his federal trial on tax fraud and money laundering charges, but he does apparently have an airtight case for not wearing socks in court.

No, it isn't a lack of petty cash. It's fashion. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told CNN — which seriously asked about the socks — that Manafort has limited sartorial options for his trial, including no belt or shoes with shoelaces. That explains the loafers, but Maloni also explained that Manafort only has access to government-issued white socks, and "he doesn't like white socks."

Not only does Manafort have no socks, he "has no swag," says Esquire senior style editor Jonathan Evans. "In case you hadn't heard, white socks are actually kind of a thing right now. Wearing them with loafers is a move that perfectly balances throwback vibes with a bit of tongue-in-cheek stylistic irony. It's pretty cool, to be honest! Which is exactly why I wouldn't expect Manafort to get it." And in case you were curious about Manafort's lack of defense witnesses or evidence, The Late Show has a theory. Peter Weber

4:04 a.m. ET
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Alex Jones and/or his Infowars site have been banned from Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify over their hateful and demonstrably false conspiracy theories, and even Twitter just put Jones on one-week probation, but none of that has anything to do with why the Federal Communications Commission shut down Jones' flagship radio station, Radio Liberty. According to documents in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Austin this week, Radio Liberty had been illegally broadcasting over a local FM station from 2013 until it ceased pirating the airwaves in December and switched to online streaming and a call-in "listen line."

FCC agents from Houston tracked the pirate radio signals to apartments in north-central Austin owned by defendants Walter Olenick and M. Rae Nadler-Olenick, the Austin American Statesman reports. According to the FCC, the Olenicks refused to pay the agency's $15,000 fine or recognize its authority and threatened to treat FCC agents as trespassers if they returned to the property. On Wednesday, the American Statesman said, the once-pirated frequency, 901. FM, was playing religious programming. Peter Weber

3:19 a.m. ET

"It is a chilling day in American history, and not just because I keep this theater at 52 degrees," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "For the first time ever, a president has used the power of his office to punish members of the intelligence community who have criticized him." He played White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reading President Trump's statement on why he revoked former CIA chief John Brennan's security clearance, and one charge stuck out: Brennan's alleged "wild outbursts on the internet." "I'd say that's the pot calling the kettle black, but there may be tapes of it calling the kettle much worse," Colbert joked.

Trump's been threatening to hit Brennan for a month, and announcing it today "is just an obvious attempt to distract our attention from America's sweetheart, Omarosa," Colbert said. Her claim that Trump used the N-word, and that it's on tape, "has sparked a national debate: Exactly how big of a racist is the president? I mean, on a scale of "Drunk Uncle at Thanksgiving' to 'Drunk Uncle at Trump Rally'?" Trump has insisted, frequently, that he is "the least racist" person, and Colbert suggested Trump doth protest too much.

Yes, it was "another rough week for the Trump White House: scandals, bad press, bad polls numbers," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "But the good news is, they found someone to blame," Brennan. He also found Trump's rationale curious. "Unfounded allegations, wild internet outbursts, and lying?" Noah asked. "It sounds like Sarah Sanders is just reading from President Trump's daily schedule." Throw in the officials he says he's targeting next, "Trump's enemies list," and it's pretty clear "Trump isn't just protecting secrets for the good of the country," Noah said, wondering how Rosie O'Donnell and Don Lemon aren't on the list, too. Watch below. Peter Weber

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