Mar 7, 2018

Report: Trump administration wants a special envoy for North Korea

Kim Jong-un. Photo: Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images

The Trump administration is debating onboarding a North Korean envoy to help handle potential negotiations with Pyongyang alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one administration official told CNN. Seoul has announced that North Korea expressed interest in speaking with the U.S. about denuclearization in a potential breakthrough.

Why it matters: The State Department’s Special Representative for North Korea, Ambassador Joseph Yun, is leaving his post. The State Department lacks a permanent ambassador to Seoul, and the assistant secretary for East Asia is in place in an acting capacity and hasn’t yet been confirmed. But with such a delicate conversation, a point person may help negotiations along, per CNN.

  • The U.S. has had special envoys roles in the past for talks with North Korea and to deal with human rights issues in the country. The new special envoy would likely serve beneath any replacement for Yun.
  • What they're saying: State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert has said it's "simply wrong" to think no one other than Yun is "capable of handling North Korea."

But, but, but: Talks might not even take place. The U.S. has only heard from South Korea on the alleged North Korean proposal, a senior administration official told Axios. And the U.S. plans to continue its joint military drills with South Korea, which Pyongyang views as a rehearsal for invasion.

Go deeper: How North Korean diplomacy fails ... How we got here

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy