Poll: Kim Jong Un looks stronger than Trump after summit

WASHINGTON — Kim Jong Un appears stronger than President Donald Trump in the wake of their historic summit, according to a new Economist/YouGov poll.

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed a week after the meeting said Kim is a strong leader, up from roughly half in April.

Just 51 percent said the same of Trump.

While Trump has touted the North Korea summit as a huge success, saying he attained “the big thing,” Americans were less sure. About a third of respondents said it was successful, and 22 percent said it was not. An even larger number didn’t know what to think.

The closely watched event, held June 12 in Singapore, marked the first time the two countries’ leaders met face to face.

Kim and Trump have had a rocky relationship, trading insults and threats from afar. But in March the U.S. commander in chief announced he would meet with the youthful leader he had nicknamed “Little Rocket Man.”

Talks centered around sanctions and denuclearization of North Korea. Democratic lawmakers, along with some Republicans, slammed Trump for conceding too much. The president agreed to end joint military exercises with South Korea.

Poll respondents gave Kim an edge in the negotiations. Sixteen percent said the U.S. got more out of the summit, while 27 percent chose North Korea. A quarter called it a tie.

And just a quarter said they thought the North agreed to give up nuclear weapons.

Perceptions of the isolated nation took a turn for the better. Ten percent of those surveyed said North Korea is an ally or friendly to the United States, twice as much as the previous week.

—CQ-Roll Call

Air Force says planning for Space Force will be ‘thorough’ and ‘deliberate’

Planning to establish a new, separate U.S. Space Force, as directed by President Donald Trump earlier this week, is not expected to be a speedy process, Air Force officials say.

A letter to airmen signed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said the Air Force looked forward to working with the Defense Department, Congress and other national security partners to “move forward on this planning effort.”

However, it said the work to create what could be the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces would be a “thorough, deliberate and inclusive process.”

“As such, we should not expect any immediate moves or changes,” the letter stated. “Our focus must remain on the mission as we continue to accelerate the space warfighting capabilities required to support the National Defense Strategy.”

On Monday, Trump directed the Defense Department and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to create a Space Force. A congressional vote would be necessary to authorize a new military service.

The Air Force, as well as Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, previously had opposed a similar idea from the House for a “space corps,” which would have been housed under the Air Force.

—Los Angeles Times

Inhofe, Pruitt’s Capitol Hill ally, takes back criticism after meeting

WASHINGTON — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s longtime friend and political ally on Capitol Hill is walking back his criticism of the embattled agency leader after the two met Tuesday evening.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma, said he’s “a little embarrassed” over telling conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham last week that the Environmental Protection Agency head may need to resign amid mounting ethics complaints.

“I was beginning to have doubts about Scott Pruitt, all these accusations, but I had to find out for myself,” Inhofe said in an interview Wednesday.

Inhofe blamed some news media outlets — he didn’t name them but said they “hate” Pruitt — for not providing the EPA’s response to allegations Inhofe said came from disgruntled former agency employees he didn’t identify. He also alleged that Pruitt is a target of a campaign bankrolled by billionaire political activist Tom Steyer.

Pruitt’s high security costs are justified because of the “unprecedented threats” against him and his family, Inhofe said. Pruitt also repaid an intermediary for tickets to the Rose Bowl, he said.

Pruitt has been under scrutiny for months over matters including an arrangement to rent a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condo from a lobbyist for $50 a night and frequent taxpayer-funded travel to his home state of Oklahoma. He’s also under fire for leaning on EPA employees to run personal errands and help secure a job for his wife.

Pruitt faces more than 11 federal investigations by lawmakers, the White House and the EPA’s internal watchdog involving his travel, spending, security and other matters.

—Bloomberg News

Thursday’s White House congressional picnic is off, Trump says

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced he will “cancel and postpone” Thursday evening’s congressional picnic at the White House because “we’re all so busy.”

“I was just walking over to the Oval Office and thinking, you know, it just doesn’t feel right to have a picnic for Congress when we’re working on doing something so important.”

He then said it will be rescheduled at a later date.

Preparations for the picnic were well underway, with White House cooks prepping steaks and staff moving large cooler boxes in position between the residence and the Palm Room doors.

“Our goal is to donate it,” a White House official said of the food that was meant for Thursday evening’s congressional picnic. “We are limited on what/who we can donate to, so we are determining next steps now.”

—CQ-Roll Call