President Trump’s Administration is talking tough on North Korea, as Vice President Mike Pence visits the region and the hermit state attempted a missile launch early Sunday. Pence, who was briefed on the launch before landing in South Korea, made a surprise visit to the Demilitarized Zone Monday, telling reporters, “The era of strategic patience is over.” Beyond being a rebuke of the Obama Administration’s policy, it’s still unclear what that means. With military and intelligence officials warning that time is running out to prevent North Korea from developing missiles that could carry nuclear weapons to the U.S., the Trump Administration has been quiet on what its strategy is. Trump has put pressure on China to use its influence on North Korea to push it toward a different path — President Trump tweeted that it is why he didn’t label China a currency manipulator as he had promised on the campaign — but there has been as yet no change to North Korea’s provocations. The White House has left the door open to a pre-emptive strike, but says it looks to resolve the issue diplomatically. Tough talk alone won’t do it.
Trump is getting a boost from his outside group America First Policies, which released its first ads boosting Republican members of Congress who have faced pressure from both the left and right over their support of the president’s agenda. The White House blamed the defeat of the healthcare bill on the lack of air cover for its allies, and as it looks to reset its legislative agenda, the nonprofit organization is taking a central role in the White House strategy.
Transparency groups pan the White House’s decision on visitor logs. How Trump’s travel compares to past presidents. And Gorsuch’s first week.
Here are your must reads:
A ‘Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion’ in North Korea
Issue “coming to a head” National Security Advisor McMaster warns [New York Times]
Pro-Trump Group Launches a $3 Million Ad Campaign to Prop Up House Allies
First significant spending by outside group [Washington Post]
Pence Warns North Korea ‘Era of Strategic Patience Is Over’
Administration amps up rhetoric [Associated Press]
The Tax March Is Different From Other Trump Protests. Here’s Why
TIME’s Charlotte Alter on the latest Trump protests
“All options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Korea for denuclearization of this peninsula and for the long term prosperity and freedom of the people of South Korea.” — Vice President Mike Pence at the DMZ
“The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment.” — Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in a statement late Saturday
Bits and Bites
President Trump Declines to Label China as a Currency Manipulator [Associated Press]
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Turns Over Email List To DNC [Huffington Post]
Trump demands gold‑plated welcome [The Times]
How Trump’s Travel Compares With Past Presidents [New York Times]
Neil Gorsuch Tackles Church and State in First Week on Supreme Court [Associated Press]