Ahead of Donald Trump’s meeting tonight (Feb. 27) with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, the US president spent some time tweeting, starting with a suitably on-topic message extolling the economic possibilities that could unfold before the isolated country if it denuclearizes:
His remarks quickly took a domestic turn. First, he mocked Connecticut Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal over his false claims about having served in Vietnam, calling him “Da Nang Dick” (Trump frequently claims Da Nang, a city in Vietnam, is where Blumenthal said he served, but there’s no record of the senator saying where he was purportedly deployed.) Then he ripped into his former lawyer Michael Cohen, and rounded it off with a MAGA-flavored tweet that praised Fiat Chrysler for plans to expand manufacturing in Michigan (paywall).
The distraction is understandable. Hours after he arrived, the US House of Representatives overturned Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border, blocking his access to $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall. That measure is now headed for the Senate, where passage will be more difficult, but not impossible. Meanwhile Cohen’s prepared remarks (pdf) for his public testimony before a House committee later today show he plans to call his former client a “conman,” “cheat,” and “racist.” He is also expected to accuse Trump of committing crimes (paywall) while in office in relation to a hush payment made during his campaign to an adult film star who alleges she had an affair with the president.
Trump has had high hopes for his two-day summit with Kim—including that it can deliver him a Nobel Peace prize, if he’s able to normalize relations with North Korea, put a formal end to Korean War, and bring peace to the peninsula. It’s unclear how he’ll get there, given that the US doesn’t yet appear to have obtained any specific commitments from Kim on a denunclearization schedule and process since the first Trump-Kim summit in June, and US intelligence and the military believe it’s unlikely the country will give up all its nuclear weapons. Not to mention the two sides apparently had trouble even agreeing on a menu for the two leaders’ dinner together tonight.
It’s far from the first time troubles at home—especially ones stemming from the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election—have overshadowed (paywall) Trump’s most significant visits abroad.