Feb 28, 2019

Axios PM

Situational awareness: "All American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan over the next three to five years under a new Pentagon plan being offered in peace negotiations that could lead to a government in Kabul that shares power with the Taliban." [NYT]

1 big thing: Trump and Kim's no deal

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The surprise has now worn off the abrupt end to the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi, with the two sides disputing even the terms of what was being negotiated.

  • The U.S. side: North Korea offered to close one nuclear facility in exchange for lifting all economic sanctions.
  • The North Korean side: It only wanted a partial reprieve from economic sanctions.

Why it matters: "Further progress could be difficult now that Mr. Trump has broadcast that he and Mr. Kim have staked out conflicting bottom lines," the N.Y. Times' Edward Wong reports.

The other side: "Trump could have left Hanoi with a deal of any kind just for the sake of it, but he decided that no deal was better than an insubstantial one that could hamper future negotiations," Stanford professor Gi-Wook Shin writes for Axios Expert Voices.

  • "By doing so, he not only appeared as a tough negotiator to his North Korean counterpart, but also shielded himself from the potential criticism of a bad deal, affording him more domestic political slack than the alternative might have."
  • "His decision also sends a warning signal to North Korea that he will not let the country continue to set the tone and pace for the negotiations."

Between the lines: Trump also faced a furor today over comments where he said he believes Kim Jong-un's denial about the mistreatment of Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student who was in a coma when released by North Korea and died shortly after returning home.

  • "He felt badly about it. He felt very badly," Trump said today. "He tells me that he didn't know about it and I will take him at his word."
  • "I don't think that the top leadership knew about it ... I don't believe that he [Kim] would have allowed that to happen."
  • Flashback to January 2018: "You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all," Trump told Warmbier's parents during the State of the Union.
  • Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley today: "Americans know the cruelty that was placed on Otto Warmbier by the North Korean regime. Our hearts are with the Warmbier family for their strength and courage. We will never forget Otto."

The bottom line: Diplomacy is happening and the freeze in nuclear tests will continue, North Korea confirmed today. But that's about it.

Coming tonight: Axios World editor Dave Lawler with more on the reaction to the summit. Subscribe here.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

The Carrières de Lumières will exhibit the work of the genius painter Vincent Van Gogh.

  • Spanning the 7,000 square meters of the stones Carrières, a visual and musical production retraces the intense life of the tormented artist, who, during the last ten years of his life, painted more than 2,000 pictures, which are now held in collections around the world.
2. What you missed
  1. Israel will indict PM Benjamin Netanyahu in one case of bribery and two cases of fraud and breach of trust. All indictments are pending a hearing. Go deeper.
  2. The House Oversight Committee will seek to interview several of the people that Michael Cohen mentioned during his six-hour testimony, including Don Jr. and Ivanka, as well as Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. Go deeper.
  3. YouTube is disabling all comments on videos of young children to deter a pattern of behavior by pedophiles originally reported on by WIRED. Details.
  4. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Neomi Rao, Trump's pick to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
  5. Outfielder Bryce Harper signed the biggest deal in North American pro sports history, paying him $330 million over 13 years to join the Phillies. [WashPost]
3. 1 Seuss thing

Random House Children’s Books via AP

"An unfinished manuscript by [Dr. Seuss] is the basis for 'Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum,' coming Sept. 3," the AP reported today.

  • "Random House Children’s Books announced Thursday that illustrator Andrew Joyner completed the text, which has a look 'both subtly Seussian and wholly his own.'"
  • "The book features horse artwork by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock among others and will include cameos from such Seuss favorites as the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat."
  • "Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodore Geisel, died in 1991. A posthumous release in 2015, 'What Pet Should I Get,' was a best-seller."