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Trump defends Asia trip after US receives diplomatic slap in the face on trade

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President Donald Trump hit back at critics of his recent Asia trip and vowed a global campaign of “maximum pressure” on North Korea Wednesday, warning Pyongyang will not subject the world to “nuclear blackmail.”

Defending an almost two week trip to Asia that was long on pomp but — critics say — short on achievements, Trump said he had successfully galvanized opposition to North Korean proliferation.

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“I made clear that we will not allow this twisted dictatorship to hold the world hostage to nuclear blackmail,” Trump said in a televised statement a day after returning from the marathon trip.

During a 25 minute address, Trump repeatedly reached for a bottle of water and appeared worn by the long journey that took in Hawaii, South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Always keen to garner praise and lift up examples of others showing him respect, Trump said the red carpet rolled out for him in Asia showed that “America is back.”

“Everywhere we went, our foreign hosts greeted the American delegation and myself included with incredible warmth and hospitality and most importantly respect,” he said.

Trump and his supporters are fighting a rearguard action against suggestions that the trip was a failure.

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They are pointing to a series of Asian investments in the United States and the release of three US basketball players on Chinese shoplifting charges, after presidential intervention, as evidence it was a success.

Adding to that, Trump himself said that he had won a commitment from Chinese leader Xi Jinping to use Beijing’s economic leverage to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

It was not clear if that went beyond Chinese implementation of existing UN Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.

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Trump also suggested that Xi — who will send a special envoy to Pyongyang later this week — had ditched a proposal to freeze US military maneuvers in exchange for a freeze in North Korean proliferation.

“President Xi recognizes that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China,” Trump said. “And we agreed that we would not accept a so-called ‘freeze for freeze’ agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past.”

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There was no immediate confirmation of what would be a significant shift in Chinese policy from Beijing’s embassy in Washington.

– Welcome home –

Democratic Senator Edward Markey summed up the sentiment of many in his camp in saying that Trump failed to “make meaningful progress” on “critical economic and security issues during his trip to East Asia.”

“Rather than building on the messages in Japan and South Korea on the importance of trilateral unity in the face of the North Korean threat, President Trump tweeted about how hard he has tried to be North Korea’s friend and called Kim Jong Un ‘short and fat,'” he said.

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Aside the furor over Trump tweets, his visit also saw 11 Asia-Pacific allies announce they would press ahead with a free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

That was seen as a diplomatic slap in the face and evidence that the world was looking beyond America’s mercurial and nationalistic current leadership.

“The US is out of the game,” said Nate Olson of the Stimson Center. “While the US posture alternates between defensive and scorched-earth, other countries are actively fighting to reshape the trade landscape in their favor.”

“The progress toward a successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership is just the latest example.

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MSNBC’s ‘demotion’ of ‘feckless’ Chuck Todd celebrated: ‘Hurray! More Nicolle, less Chuck’

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MSNBC host Chuck Todd was moved to an earlier timeslot where his show, "Meet the Press Daily," will likely earn lower ratings. Meanwhile, Nicolle Wallace seems to have been promoted to a two-hour timeslot leading into primetime.

Wallace, who has extensive experience in Washington, previously served in George W. Bush's White House until abandoning the GOP as the era of Trump came to power.

Todd has made several missteps where he's been unwilling to press GOP leaders who lie openly and obviously on camera.

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George Conway blasts ‘blundering cheat’ Trump in new op-ed: ‘His name should live in infamy’

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Prominent conservative attorney George T. Conway III has written yet another Washington Post op-ed blasting President Donald Trump.

"If there’s one thing we know about President Trump, it’s that he lies and he cheats. Endlessly," Conway wrote. "And shamelessly. But still, mostly, incompetently."

"So it should have come as no surprise that Trump finally went where no U.S. president had ever gone before. In a tweet last week, he actually suggested that the country 'Delay the Election.' That trial balloon was a brazen effort to see if he can defraud his way into four more years in the White House," he explained. "And why not try? After all, Trump has managed to swindle his way through life, on matters large and small, essential and trivial."

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Trump’s ‘delay the election’ tweet laid the groundwork for him and his followers to have an excuse if he loses

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Writing in The New York Times this Monday, Gail Collins and Bret Stephens discuss their contention that President Trump is seeing the writing on the wall regarding the 2020 election, an analysis born from his recent tweet where he suggests delaying the election.

According to Stephens, Trump's tweet is a sign that he knows "in his heart" that he's going to lose in November.

"He’s laying the groundwork not for a coup but for an excuse, both for himself and for his followers," Stephens says. "It creates a mythology to explain defeat, attack Joe Biden and keep the Trump family relevant in the Republican Party. The fact that he’d pull a stunt like this is another reason it’s so important that he lose in a landslide in November."

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