North Korea's hardliner-in-chief

Photo: Olivier Douliery, Pool/Getty Images

Some experienced North Korea analysts believe hardline elements within the North Korean intelligence apparatus have been opposed to the idea of the summit between Kim Jong-un and Trump.

Between the lines: One source said Kim Jong-un's decision to send the former spy chief Gen. Kim Yong-chol to the U.S. was likely designed to signal to any internal skeptics that he's taking a tough-minded approach.

  • The U.S. intelligence community believes Kim "has been the mastermind of some of North Korea's most nefarious recent activities," said the source, who has studied the U.S. intelligence assessments of Kim.
  • The source said these nefarious activities include the 2010 sinking of a South Korean Navy vessel — by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine — which killed 46 sailors.

Behind the scenes: Kim Yong-chol had never visited the West before his recent trip to New York and Washington, the source said.

  • Part of Mike Pompeo’s plan was to show Kim what's possible and how far behind they are, economically. When they met in New York, Pompeo showed Kim sweeping views of the city.

What's next

⚖️ Live updates: Democrats close out their opening arguments

House managers wrapped up their three-day impeachment presentation with a direct appeal to the senators to think about the precedent their actions — or more notably their inaction — would have on democracy and Congress’ future ability to serve as a check on the president.

The close: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) anticipated attacks on him, other House managers, the Ukraine whistleblower, and the Bidens from Trump's team, which begins its defense of the president on Saturday. He appealed directly to GOP senators: “Real political courage does not come from disagreement with our opponents, but disagreeing with our friends and our own party.”

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020 - Politics

Death toll climbs in coronavirus outbreak

41 people have died from an outbreak of a coronavirus strain that originated in Wuhan, China, AP reports.

The latest: The respiratory illness has made its way to Europe, with France confirming three cases, Reuters reports. France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said Friday two patients are hospitalized in Paris. The other case is in the southwestern city of Bordeaux. They had returned from a trip that had a stop in Wuhan.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020 - World

Lawyer alleges Giuliani associate recorded Trump comments on Ukrainian ambassador

Photo: Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The lawyer for Lev Parnas, a Rudy Giuliani associate, claims there is a recording of President Trump saying former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch should be fired, the Daily Beast reports.

The latest: Parnas said on Friday that he has turned the recording over to the House Intelligence Committee, per the New York Times — as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) led House Democrats in laying out the case for impeaching Trump before the Senate.