Feb 14, 2018

Pence on North Korea: Nothing changes until they abandon nukes

Vice President Mike Pence with Axios' Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Vice President Mike Pence told Axios' Mike Allen on Wednesday President Trump "always believes in talking [with North Korea], but talking is not negotiating."

Why it matters: He said nothing will change with North Korea until they give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons. He said they must "completely, verifiably, and completely abandon" its missile programs, and "only then can we consider any change in posture by the United States or the international community."

  • He called North Korea "the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet," which is "nothing short of a prison state."
  • On U.S. military options against North Korea: "The United States has viable military options to deal with the threat of nuclear and ballistic missiles from North Korea…we want to exhaust every opportunity to make sure North Korea understands our intentions and the seriousness of the USA and our allies."
  • On seeing Kim Yo-jung at the 2018 Olympics: "I didn’t avoid the dictator’s sister, but I did ignore her…I didn’t believe it was proper for the USA to give her any attention in that forum."

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But behind the scenes, a source familiar with the campaign tells Axios, the thinking has shifted: "As everyone can see, we still have strong spending on Facebook, but the percentage of our total media budget [on Facebook] is shrinking."

Trump's revenge tour has the House in its sights

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In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections — buoyed by Republican control of both chambers — President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate.

But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November, several people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.

Pelosi warns U.S. allies against working with China's Huawei

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday cautioned U.S. allies against allowing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop their 5G networks, arguing at the Munich Security Conference that doing so is akin to “choosing autocracy over democracy," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Pelosi's hawkish stance marks a rare area of agreement with the Trump administration, which believes Huawei is a national security threat because the Chinese government may be capable of accessing its equipment for espionage.

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