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Sciutto: What is Korean for 'whiplash?'

The National Security Council confirmed that lines of communication with North Korea are back open, and the possibility of a summit is back in play. CNN's Jim Sciutto reviews the differing stances President Donald Trump has taken on North Korea.

Posted: May 28, 2018 4:36 AM
Updated: May 28, 2018 4:38 AM

Every week, I offer a glimpse of the kind of intelligence assessments that are likely to come across the desk of the President of the United States.

Modeled on the President's Daily Briefing, or PDB, which the director of national intelligence prepares for President Trump almost daily, my Presidential Weekly Briefing focuses on the topics and issues that Trump needs to know about to make informed decisions.

Here's this week's briefing:

North Korea summit: Peer pressure

Mr. President, you will be under pressure from all sides to proceed with a summit with Kim Jong Un.

  • North Korea: The totalitarian regime will try to keep summit prospects warm because Kim probably believes he can get some economic relief, a reputational bump and a security blanket if he keeps negotiations ongoing. He thinks that if the diplomatic track is alive he can market himself as a committed, responsible negotiating partner. And while a face-to-face with Trump would help make Kim a media darling, there's a more significant benefit for him: a greater likelihood that other countries would consider lessening pressure on Pyongyang. At the same time, North Korea likely views a live negotiating track as a deterrent to a US military option. Mr. President, Kim's calculus is probably that if you think the diplomatic track could yield a positive outcome, you will be less likely to turn to military force.

  • South Korea: President Moon Jae-in will do whatever it takes, including literally embracing Kim, to keep negotiations going because he assesses that both South Korea's security and his own job security are on the line. Moon has been a longtime proponent of a diplomatic approach, in no small part because a military strike would plausibly result in North Korean counterstrikes against South Korea. This would put millions of lives at risk. Moon may have oversold North Korea's willingness to negotiate in good faith to delay such action, in fact. His domestic approval ratings got a massive boost since the "diplomatic breakthrough" was announced in March and he met Kim at the demilitarized zone for the first time. President Trump, if Moon fails to pull a rabbit out of a hat and get you and Kim to meet face to face, he will look played by Kim and/or abandoned by you, either of which will mean a blow to his political standing and make a US military strike on the Korean peninsula look more likely.

  • Russia: Vladimir Putin has historically picked sides, and it's not ours, it's all Kim's. Putin has accused the US of provoking North Korea on more than one occasion. And President Trump, he's likely to blame you -- not the man with the illegal nukes -- if the negotiations do in fact die. But remember -- whichever way this goes, it's a win for Moscow. If you are unsuccessful in getting Kim to denuclearize, or if it looks like Kim stood you up, you help Putin achieve his goal of undermining US credibility. If talks progress and the North skirts a military strike, that would also skirt the risk of the US sending more troops to the region or replacing Kim with a pro-American leader. That's also a positive outcome because Putin doesn't want us anywhere closer to Moscow. Although Putin is sending his foreign minister to North Korea this week, he is keeping relatively quiet publicly because he knows this all works in his favor.

  • China: Like Russia, China has historically urged diplomacy with North Korea. A US military strike would upset the regional status quo that they enjoy and could result in refugees spilling into China and more US troops in the region. President Trump, if there is a perception that you torpedoed negotiations, then President Xi Jinping will manipulate that narrative and use it to bring US allies like South Korea closer to him and further from you. So China will support negotiations on at least a slow boil, but they'll want something for it. We know that lifting US penalties against telecommunications company ZTE has been a core focus for Xi, and in exchange for using their patronage of Kim Jong Un to urge him to play ball, they'll want more. Quid pro quos are on the menu.

Trade policy: Rough road ahead

Mr. President, countries are reacting unanimously against your decision to launch an investigation into whether imports of vehicles "threaten to impair" US national security. They are likely to retaliate if this investigation results in penalties similar to the tariffs you imposed on steel and aluminum imports.

This investigation does further isolate us from our allies who represent a significant amount of our automobile trade, including NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the investigation was based on flimsy logic and was linked to your NAFTA renegotiation strategy), along with Japan, Germany and South Korea. South Korean officials already said they would "have to respond" to any US tariffs, and after the previous round of steel and aluminum tariffs, the EU almost immediately threatened retaliatory trade measures. If this proceeds, we can expect a similar reaction.

Allies, including the EU and Japan, said the move would be against World Trade Organization rules, and a "rival power" -- China -- took your announcement as an opportunity to (hypocritically) urge respect for their multilateral trading system (China is not exactly a poster child for respecting the WTO or international rules). So we can expect our allies and our economic competitors to be aligned (and potentially coordinating) on a response to the investigation, including taking us to the WTO or, following our lead, using "national security" concerns to close their own borders to our exports.

Taiwan: Increasingly dire straits

China is ramping up its campaign against Taiwan. We assess that as President Xi feels even stronger at home, in the region, and on the global stage, he will use everything in his tool kit against Taiwan. As part of its international pressure campaign against Taiwan, China has steadily destroyed Taiwan's diplomatic relationships.

Last week, Burkina Faso became the latest country to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which now has only 17 diplomatic relationships left. China is also leveraging its economic clout and pressuring companies like Gap Inc. and Delta Air Lines to avoid recognizing Taiwan as its own country or risk losing business in China. China knows that the United States is committed to Taiwan's defense, by law, so it will likely continue to undermine Taiwan's security and diplomatic standing and see how far they can push the envelope before provoking any kind of substantive response from you.

Afghanistan: Threat assessment

Taliban attacks continued there last week and we anticipate a further uptick in violence, particularly after the Taliban issued a warning that they're planning attacks on government, police and intelligence facilities in Kabul and asked civilians to stay away. Despite our public statements last year that some Taliban groups expressed an interest in talking, we've seen no meaningful indication recently that the Taliban is open to substantive negotiations. We have referenced the Taliban as a "weakened enemy" recently while continuing operations against them, but they maintain the ability to launch high-profile attacks -- including in the increasing swathes of territory controlled by insurgents.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1717876

Reported Deaths: 26851
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1793291843
Cuyahoga1681592655
Hamilton1137721544
Montgomery805721405
Summit719531210
Lucas630291027
Butler56852814
Stark538501183
Lorain42330645
Warren35959417
Mahoning35798788
Lake32314501
Clermont31289369
Trumbull27344620
Delaware27206185
Licking26658344
Medina26042353
Fairfield24638287
Greene24378373
Clark22122390
Portage21257283
Richland21102342
Wood20128248
Allen18969326
Miami17338352
Columbiana16905335
Muskingum16726207
Wayne15740307
Tuscarawas14454362
Marion13332196
Ashtabula12732237
Erie12685199
Scioto12475188
Pickaway12260155
Ross11719226
Hancock11529175
Geauga10934179
Lawrence10653172
Belmont10459234
Huron9805159
Jefferson9632228
Union957375
Sandusky9348166
Seneca8917161
Knox8792176
Washington8688159
Darke8399181
Athens838197
Ashland8029152
Auglaize7943120
Shelby7511135
Defiance7358117
Crawford7281150
Fulton7215113
Brown7173116
Logan7003111
Guernsey696186
Mercer6933100
Highland6745120
Clinton6526106
Williams650099
Madison649790
Preble6274140
Putnam6244122
Jackson581597
Champaign580887
Perry566779
Coshocton5645108
Ottawa5641102
Morrow517765
Fayette494072
Hardin4895100
Gallia471478
Van Wert467895
Pike465578
Adams4592110
Henry434280
Hocking410193
Holmes3999141
Wyandot377675
Carroll366178
Paulding325451
Meigs305961
Monroe235961
Noble220349
Morgan216939
Harrison213153
Vinton187638
Unassigned06
Fort Wayne
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Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 23°
Angola
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Hi: 42° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 27°
Huntington
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 30°
Decatur
Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 23°
Van Wert
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 30°
Saturday is looking great, with warmer temperatures, wet and windy conditions returning Sunday.
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