“Another day, another ginormous headline out of N. Korea. Our first take is still coming together, but Kim is telling Seoul that he's willing to hold talks to perhaps give up his nukes and normalize relations with the U.S.” Jonathan Cheng links to his reporting in The Wall Street Journal, North Korea Willing to talk Denuclearization With U.S.
At The New York Times, Choe Sang-Hun reports on the story in North Korea Is Willing to Discuss Giving Up Nuclear Weapons, South Says. Rich Lowry thinks that was “Always where this was headed,” while Nicholas Kristof says, “If the North genuinely means this, that would be a big breakthrough, but count me skeptical.” Matt Novak’s take: “What a huge opportunity to avoid World War III. All Trump has to do is shut up for now and not fuck it up.” As Rick Gladstone points out, “North Korean overture on nukes, and Trump's guardedly positive reaction, potentially represent major defusing in one of the world's most tense confrontations. But North Korea & US also have a history of false starts.”
More coverage of the story from Kanga Kong, Andy Sharp and Jihye Lee at Bloomberg, Trump Sees Sign of Progress in Possible North Korea Talks With U.S.. Gerry Doyle calls it “an interesting development despite america’s best efforts.”
Meanwhile, “You know how Trump said the North Koreans ‘called up a couple of days ago’ and asked for talks? Turns out he was talking about his phone call with South Korea’s president Moon, according to Yonhap.” Anna Fifield links to the Yonhapnews Agency’s report, White House: Trump did not have call with N. Koreans. Gerry Doyle weighs in again with, “I'd just like to point out how insane it is that the president's thinking he was talking to kim jong-un (north korea) and not moon jae-in (south korea) is not even the biggest story of the day, thanks to nunberg's ongoing virtuosity.”
Ah yes, Nunberg. Hoo boy. It’s a lot. It started with this piece by Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post, Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg called before grand jury, says he will refuse to go. And then Nunberg called MSNBC’s Katy Tur, telling her “Trump may have done something during the election. I don't know what it is.” Later, he reiterated to CNN that he’s refusing to comply with the subpoena: ‘Let him arrest me.’ When Jake Tapper asked Nunberg if he thought Trump really knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting, Nunberg replied, “No. You know he knew about it. He was talking about it a week before...I don't know why he went around trying to hide it.” Helaine Olen calls it “That moment as a journalist when you can't believe this person is speaking with you on the record, the Sam Nunberg edition.” He also spoke with CNN’s Erin Burnett and MSNBC’s Ari Melber.
CNN’s Stephen Collinson writes that the Nunberg episode marks the dawn of Mueller’s March madness. Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei at Axios write, of the spectacle, Awful scandal porn: Nunberg gone wild. But McKay Coppins at The Atlantic notes, “Here’s the thing about the Sam Nunberg ‘meltdown’ yesterday: He’s been pulling stunts like this for literally years. Yes, this one was higher-stakes, but it was also the first one to attract wall-to-wall media coverage—and he couldn't be happier about it!” He recaps it in Sam Nunberg's Spectacular Stunt.
Also yesterday afternoon, “Workers remove @readonaldtrump’s name from hotel in Panama, 3rd hotel to remove the Trump name since he took office,” tweets David Fahrenthold. He links to his coverage in The Washington Post with Ana Currud, The Trump Panama hotel showdown appears to end, and the Trump name is coming down.
ABC News’ Aicha El Hammar and Matthew Mosk report on the story, Police evict Trump staff from Panama hotel amid ongoing dispute. ABC News tweets, “Trump name chiseled off the Trump International Hotel in Panama after weeks of tensions over control of the property.” Tweets Marcy Wheeler, “This is interesting, given my contention that dispute of Trump Panama more about who controls records of money laundering than a mostly-empty hotel.”
Some scoop from Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev at Bloomberg, Trump Is Convinced Cohn Will Leave If Tariffs Happen, Sources Say. Angela Cullen calls it “Cohn's red line.” But everyone knows, “You can't have your tariffs and Gary Cohen, too,” as Shannon Pettypiece points out.
Also at Bloomberg, Viktoria Dendrinou and Jonathan Stearns write that EU Targets U.S. Shirts to Motorbikes in Tariff-Retaliation Plan. The gist, as Saleha Mohsin explains it, “TIT-FOR-TAT: EU’s 25% tariffs would hit GOP voters - levy to hit $3.5 billion of U.S. goods: motorcycles, jeans, bourbon whiskey - Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, where Harley Davidson is based - Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, where they make bourbon.”
Totally odd story for the day
The Stormy saga continues. Trump Lawyer’s Payment to Porn Star Was Reported as Suspicious by Bank (21,000+ shares), report Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld of The Wall Street Journal. Michelle Hackman highlights this “Key line: After Mr. Trump’s victory, Mr. Cohen complained to friends that he had yet to be reimbursed for the payment.” In other words, “Trump's people are like walking PSAs for how not to do shady financial transactions,” says Gady Epstein. But really, “Who among us hasn't had a secret $130K hush payment to a former porn star flagged by the Treasury Department as suspicious?” asks Sean Illing, Ph.D.
And now seems like a good time to ask yourself this question, which Neil Irwin poses: “Can you imagine going back in time to 2014 and explaining 2018 news stories to your former self?” He links to Audio Recordings Prove Russian Meddling in U.S. Election, Escort Says, by Richard C. Paddock of The New York Times. The lede: “A Belarusian escort with close ties to a powerful Russian oligarch said from behind bars in Bangkok on Monday that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian meddling in United States elections.”
There’s also “A new wrinkle in Christopher Steele story (to me anyway) @Guardian reports on new murder of Russian spy in UK refers to Steele heading probe of radioactive tea poisoning of Alex Litvinenko by Putin's thugs. He knows where bodies are buried and who buried them,” tweets Ron Rosenbaum, who links to Salisbury incident: critically ill man is ‘former Russian spy,’ by Luke Harding and Steven Morris of The Guardian. David Barreda calls it the “Totally odd story for the day,” although clearly there’s fierce competition for that title.
From jihad to pastrami with mayo
A new piece by Adam Goldman of The New York TImes tells the story of a man who Turned on Al Qaeda and Aided the U.S. Now He’s on Food Stamps and Needs a Job. Tweets Goldman, “I interviewed a terrorist at katz’s delicatessen. When he ordered a pastrami with mayo the waiter shot him a weird look.” He adds, “It is useful when writing about terrorism to have actually talked to a terrorist. Conducting interview at Jewish deli is optional.” Scott Shane dubs it, “From jihad to pastrami with mayo -- Read this terrific @adamgoldmanNYT story on a guy who clearly needs to be in witness protection.”
All the signs of a high school life
“Freshman Alyssa Alhadeff's bedroom is as she left it, with all the signs of a high school life: textbooks, nail polish, soccer cleats, and a sparkly dress in her closet. Just devastating by @remysmidt,” tweets Lisa Tozzi. She’s referring to the new piece by Remy Smidt of BuzzFeed, Here’s What What A 14-Year-Old Girl Left Behind After She Died In A Mass Shooting. Alan Haburchak notes, “I keep being more and more impressed by the way @remysmidt has reported WITH the people affected by the Parkland shooting instead of just ABOUT them.”
At The New York Times, Dana Goldstein delivers “My TAKE on the teachers strike: We always ask teachers to solve our biggest problems, for very little monetary reward. (If you ever wanted a 1200-word version of my book, this is basically it. H/t @IanTrontz).” That piece is Fighting Poverty, Drugs and Even Violence, All on a Teacher’s Salary.
“I’ve never been comfortable sharing much about myself. I thought about mental health as someone else’s problem. I’ve realized I need to change that,” tweets Kevin Love. His new piece in The Players’ Tribune is Everyone Is Going Through Something (23,000+ shares). Kelly McLaughlin reveals, “I had my first panic attack when I was 17. I didn't start talking about it until years later. Thanks, @kevinlove, for telling your story and helping others know they're not alone.” Adds Adrian Crawford, “roses are red Kevin's my MVP.”
What a way to go
And finally today, as Mike Seely says, “I guess if you gotta go, this isn't a bad way to do it.” Russ Solomon, founder of Tower Records, dies at 92 while drinking whiskey and watching the Oscars (224,000+ shares). Dale Kasler and Bob Shallit write the obit for the Sacramento legend in The Sacramento Bee. Clinton Yates’s advice: “if you've never seen @TowerRecordsDoc — first off, do that — then read the obit of the man who created one of the more influential retail operations in American pop culture history.” And Hilary Rosen says, "Great story in #RussSolomon’s hometown paper. I learned a lot about the music customer from him. He was a no bullshit, speak truth to every audience kind of guy. Music retailers worshipped him. The rest of us just wanted hang with him cause he was so cool."
Making the rounds: