Good Sunday morning. CNN's Kevin Liptak posts the letter President Obama left President Trump on Inauguration Day: "Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us ... should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure. ... [W]e are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. ... Good luck and Godspeed, BO." Read the letter.
And a bulletin: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin tells "Fox News Sunday" Harvey funds must be tied to raising debt ceiling.
The N.Y. Times says the test, which North Korea claims is a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, "was the first to clearly surpass the destructive power of the bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II."
Why it matters: The tweets are quite revealing of Trump's psychology, and consistent with his past views: Trump has never viewed diplomacy as a realistic option, and doesn't think economic pressure is working. So a military response — "fire and fury," with a catastrophic human fallout -- looks more likely.
What's new: "North Korea announced it detonated a thermonuclear device Sunday in its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, a big step toward its goal of developing nuclear weapons capable of striking anywhere in the U.S.," per AP:
The Hardy Boys might call this "The Case of the Bad Timing": Word leaked yesterday that Trump is seriously considering withdrawing from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), which would be an affront to South Korea. No decision has been made.
Be smart: This debate has been overtaken by events. Withdrawal now unlikely.
"To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now," by Upshot's Neil Irwin, on the N.Y. Times Business cover:
P.S. "Behind a $13 shirt, a $6-an-hour worker: Web of contractors insulates retailers from wage law," by L.A. Times' Natalie Kitroeff and Victoria Kim, on the front page: "Like other major clothing retailers, Forever 21 avoids paying factory workers' wage claims through a tangled labyrinth of middlemen that stands between the racks in its stores and the people who sew the clothes."
"USC called a timeout after its last touchdown. ... Coach Clay Helton was putting in a new long snapper, Jake Olson. Olson is blind. His snap was perfect, the point-after attempt was good and Olson got a big ovation" at the Coliseum, per the L.A. Times.
"Do-it-yourself rescues are part of the Texas way," by WashPost's Kevin Sullivan and Peter Holley, on A1:
Residents of Katy, Texas, listen to officials yesterday at a roadblock of their Canyon Gate neighborhood, which was flooded when the Barker Reservoir reached capacity in the aftermath of Harvey.
"In line and in life, Harvey's victims wait and worry," by AP National Writer Matt Sedensky:
"The Justice Department said in a court filing Friday evening that it has no evidence to support President Donald Trump's assertion in March that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower before last year's election." (CNN's Deirdre Walsh)
P.S. Today is John Kelly' 35th day as White House chief of staff. The N.Y. Times reports chatter about when he'll leave:
We told you Friday that 2020 hopefuls are beginning to put out feelers to potential staff and donors. The N.Y. Times' Ken Vogel and Rachel Shorey find a clear "shadow campaign," although the players remain coy:
Two potential candidates who are being closely watched in both parties:
"New MPAA chief Charles Rivkin [age 55; starts Tuesday as CEO] aims to be a diplomat for Hollywood at an uncertain time," by L.A. Times' Ryan Faughndxr:
"NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and two crewmates made a parachute touchdown in Kazakhstan on Saturday, capping a career-total 665 days in orbit, a U.S. record," Reuters reports.
"The world's tallest sandcastle was built in Duisburg [Germany by 19 'sand artists'] in just 25 days," per a press release from the German travel service Schauinsland-Reisen.