The long-awaited, and hotly contested US-North Korea summit between President Trump and North Korea leader Kim went very well yesterday. The summit lasted for hours and resulted in a commitment from North Korea to denuclearize in exchange for the US pledging security guarantees for the country. Trump said the two signed a “very important” document. Trump reported that “My meeting with Chairman Kim was honest, direct and productive … We are prepared to start a new history ... and write a new chapter between our nations”.
FINSUM: For the first time we got the feeling that North Korea has played this whole situation very slyly. They built up nuclear capabilities (probably) simply to have a better bargaining position, and it appears to be working.
After 6 months of posturing, threats, and cancellations, it is all finally going to happen tomorrow. President Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim in Singapore. The South Koreans are referring to the meeting as the “summit of the century”, and everyone seems to hope it will be a success. It will be the first time two sitting leaders of the two nations have met. Trump is hoping clinch a deal for a denuclearization program in exchange for making North Korea more included in the economic system.
FINSUM: The US is cautioning that this will be the start of a long program rather than a big bang deal. That seems reasonable given the history here.
Earlier this week it was former NYC mayor, and current Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani saying it. Now it is the president himself. Earlier this week, Trump confirmed on Twitter that “he has the absolute right to pardon himself”. However, after affirming his right, he followed up by saying “but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”.
FINSUM: The amazing thing about that statement is it may very well be true given the broad pardoning powers of the US presidential office. However, doing so would go against the fabric of the American checks and balances system and would almost certainly get Trump impeached. We understand he is frustrated by the investigation, but he needs to walk a fine line.
It looks like Trump’s efforts to put pressure on China over trade might be paying off. In what we think looks like a significant concession, Beijing has just offered to buy an extra $70 bn of US goods if Trump agrees not to impose the tariffs he has threatened. Trump has said he wants China to cut its trade surplus with the US by $200 bn. The $70 bn would mostly go to US agricultural products, energy, and manufactured goods.
FINSUM: China just made an offer that amounts to over 33% of what Trump demanded. That seems like a pretty good step.
Donald Trump’s lawyer, none other than former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, said on the record very recently that Trump has the power to pardon himself. Despite that power, though, Giuliani says Trump likely won’t do so as it would probably lead to immediate impeachment. The statement falls in line with Trump’s argument that he cannot be charged with obstruction of justice because “he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired” (quote form Trump’s legal team) based on the far-reaching pardoning powers of the US presidency.
FINSUM: From a legal perspective this is a quite an interesting question. But given the obvious political perils involved in exercising this theoretical power, we suspect this might be a moot point (but maybe not).
You know that Mercedes or BMW you have sitting in your driveway? Kiss it goodbye, maybe. In a move that seems likely to cause as much consternation at home as abroad, President Trump is planning a broad ban on German luxury cars. Trump’s proposals have ranged from a 25% tariff on German cars (extremely heavy) to outright bans. He reportedly told French leader Emmanuel Macron that he would maintain his trade policy until “no Mercedes models rolled on Fifth Avenue in New York”.
FINSUM: BMW alone makes $8-9 bn in annual revenue from sales of cars in the US. If Trump wanted to start a bitter trade war, this would be a good first step. Americans aren’t going to like this one either.