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A television news screen showing President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong at a train station in Seoul. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

Following Jonathan Swan's scoop that President Trump is open to establishing official relations with North Korea, including potentially building a U.S. embassy in Pyongyang, Bloomberg View's Eli Lake writes that the U.S. “has historically viewed a diplomatic presence in Pyongyang not as a concession, but a benefit in and of itself."

The backdrop: The establishment of an unofficial embassy in North Korea was first presented to Kim's father, Kim Jong-Il, two decades ago by former President Bill Clinton’s defense secretary, William Perry. The idea, writes Lake, was connected to a broader proposal aimed at denuclearizing North Korea, but the deal was later rejected.

What they're saying:

  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper writes in his new memoir that the North Korean regime "survives because it fosters isolation" and that its citizens are skeptical of America.
  • Over time, a U.S. embassy based in Pyongyang "would provide U.S. spy agencies with new insights into a notoriously hard intelligence target and also give North Koreans direct access to America, a country demonized by the dictatorship," Lake writes.
  • Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, disagrees. Scarlatoiu tells Lake it's "wishful thinking" to presume that America would be allowed to collect insights on a regime that largely operates a vast network of informants.
"I don't think European diplomats in Pyongyang have a chance to look at the real North Korea because they are under heavy surveillance and their movements are so restricted. Why would we expect something different for American diplomats?"
— Greg Scarlatoiu

Be smart: President Trump had said he's keeping all options on the table ahead of his meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. However, Trump has also attempted to dial back expectations, and has cautioned that normalizing relations between the two countries will take several meetings to achieve, if possible. The summit is purely the beginning of that process, he emphasized.

Go deeper

47 mins ago - Sports

China pulls Celtics games after Enes Kanter criticizes Xi Jinping

Celtics center Enes Kanter. Photo: Jim Michaud/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

China will no longer stream Boston Celtics games after center Enes Kanter called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator" in a social media post over the Chinese government's repressive policies in Tibet, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Kanter's criticism of Beijing has sparked another round of trouble for the NBA in China, one of its largest and most restrictive markets.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's new venture could be peak SPAC

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Former President Trump last night announced plans to launch a digital media network called "Truth Social," and said it would go public via a SPAC called Digital World Acquisition (Nasdaq: DWAC).

What to know: So far, this is a joke. The press release didn't contain even basic information, such as the new company's CEO. In fact, the only execs mentioned are Trump (as chairman) and veteran TV producer Scott St. John as head of a subscription streaming service.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tesla is outrunning the supply chain crunch

Expand chart
Data: FactSet and company release; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Tesla, citing a "structural shift" in demand for electric vehicles, reported its highest-ever quarterly profit of $1.6 billion and $13.8 billion in revenues despite supply chain problems.

The big picture: The company's third-quarter report says the chip shortage, port congestion and other woes have affected its factories but argues that "flexibility" and "ingenuity" are a counterweight.