– – – Tearline – – – Jul. 6, 2017

In this week's Tearline: A tale of firsts. North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile, Trump's first G-20 summit, and Trump's first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin.

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Tearline noun | ‘ter ï lin
The portions of an intelligence report that provide the substance of a more highly classified or controlled report without identifying sensitive sources, methods, or other operational information.

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What was that?!

Just days after President Donald Trump met with new South Korean President Moon Jae-in to focus on North Korea, North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which means that the rogue state may soon have the technology to launch a nuclear missile that could reach the United States. Trump previously tweeted, “It won’t happen!”, but he’s quickly facing the reality that there are no good policy options on North Korea. Trump will see Chinese President Xi Jinping this week at the G-20 summit in Germany and it’s clear that North Korea will top their agenda, but the stakes for Trump’s approach in Northeast Asia just got a lot higher.

What’s missing?

Trump is in Europe for a trip to Poland to meet with Eastern and Central European countries as well as to Germany to attend his first G-20 summit with the leaders of the world’s largest economies. Trump will face a wide variety of challenges, from European concerns over Russian aggression to global skepticism of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement to worries over Trump’s protectionist economic instincts. This will be a big test of whether Trump can navigate the delicate and complex world of international diplomacy. For some thoughts on what he will face at the G-20, see here.

What’s on deck in the world for next week

While in Europe, Trump will hold his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s tough to overstate the potential controversy surrounding this meeting, but here’s a try: Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election to help Trump win, which has led to an FBI investigation into the meddling and possible Trump team collusion with Russia—an investigation that Trump has repeatedly attempted to obstruct. Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly said nice things about Putin and refused to accept that Russia solely interfered in the election or to criticize Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Trying to preview this meeting is an exercise in analyzing the surreal. Whatever happens, Trump’s record on Russia indicates the meeting won’t go well for the interests of the United States.  

Better ideas

With an overwhelming 98-2 vote, the Senate passed new sanctions on Russia in response to its interference in the 2016 election. But with Trump signaling opposition to the sanctions, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is trying to stall. Read this piece from CAP colleagues Vikram Singh and Max Bergmann as to why the sanctions are necessary.

Quote of the week

“This is how diplomacy dies. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. With empty offices on a midweek afternoon.” That was how Max Bergmann, a CAP senior fellow, described the state of the State Department and U.S. diplomacy in the Trump era. Check out this must read.

Read of the week

The world’s two largest countries are in the midst of a weekslong standoff on the India-China border—over which they fought a war in 1962. Not good. To understand what’s going on, read this short primer.

Weekly Trump-Russia reminder

As noted above, keep an eye this week on the Trump-Putin meeting. Also, with chatter in recent weeks about the possibility that Trump could fire the special counsel investigating Russia’s election meddling, this piece from lawyer David Kendall is a good reminder that the rule of law is above the president, and firing a special counsel without cause is not legal.

168 days still violating the Constitution

President Trump has been violating the Constitution’s prohibition against corruption by foreign governments for 168 days, because his companies are receiving payments from foreign governments. For an in-depth look at Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, see this CAP interactive map and series of columns .
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Michael Fuchs

Senior Fellow

Stefanie Merchant

Special Assistant