JIP Reports On Trump Asian Policies, Conservative Future


The Justice Integrity Project (JIP)'s original reporting provides for the most part an alternative to conventional mainstream reporting even though many of this editor's other activities involve reporting, legal, business and other civic activities closely associated with traditional institutions.

asne logoOne way to provide that broader context along with a change of pace from much of our usual fare here is to excerpt two of my columns published last week by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) based on my reporting of nearly two days of ASNE briefings for fellow members earlier this month at the U.S. Department of State on May 7 and at the DC-based Heritage Foundation on May 6.

About a dozen ASNE members attended the briefings and several of us volunteered to report the discussions for ASNE's quarterly publication "The Masthead," excerpted immediately below.  

American Society of Newspaper Editors, State Dept. report: U.S. counters threats from China, North Korea, May 17, 2018. The United States takes a stern stance against threats from China and North Korea, according to a senior U.S. Department of State official who briefed ASNE members this month at the department’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

American Society of Newspaper Editors, Heritage panel: Conservatism supports, survives Trump, May 17, 2018. The conservative movement’s policies largely coincide with President Donald Trump’s agenda and so will emerge intact if not stronger following his presidency.

This editor has long been a member of about a half dozen other journalism groups, including the National Press Club, the Overseas Press Club and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, as well as the District of Columbia Bar, the American Bar Association, the Federalist Society, American Constitution Society, and the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition. The latter advocates for technically efficient spectrum use in fixed wireless bands. My involvedment grows out of a previous career leading the Wireless Communications Association as President/CEO from 1996-2008. In addition, I have served in recent years as a research fellow at two major universities but those relationships are now concluded. Also, I am active with two school alumni groups, primarily in fostering events, alumni news and the modest level of donations such activities generate.

None of these groups bears any responsibility by implication or otherwise, for any reporting here, of course. But it does seem appropriate to share with readers here from time to time the wider context that the directors of the Justice Integrity Project have long been involved in a varied civic activities, while trying (successfully so far, according to our best belief) to avoid any conflict of interest with reporting, which is intended to be hard-hitting, while non-partisan and otherwise free from conflicts. 

Regarding ASNE's annual State Department briefing, these are annual on-the-record discussions between department policy makers and ASNE members, with most of the latter's attendees coming from the editorial opinion pages of major newspapers. The half-day briefing with the Heritage Foundation was a similar program designed to foster dialog between opinion journalists and groups of newsmakers. Details are below.

asne logoState Dept. report: U.S. counters threats from China, North Korea

By Andrew Kreig

The United States takes a stern stance against threats from China and North Korea, according to a senior U.S. Department of State official who briefed ASNE members this month at the department’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

susan thornton state department“We’re not going to abide China’s attempts to displace the United States in Asia,” Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said on May 7 during the department’s annual briefing for ASNE members.

Thornton (shown at right), acting assistant secretary since March 2017 and a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service since 1991, began her remarks by describing how the Asia-Pacific region contains one third of the world’s population and contributes one third of the world’s gross domestic product.

She said that the GDP growth of 160 percent during the past decade via state-private cooperation “is no longer viable.” Other state department concerns include what she described as “backsliding on democracy and corruption” in Southeast Asia that can hurt the American as well as other interests.

state dept map logo SmallThornton focused much of her remarks on pending negotiations with North Korea regarding its nuclear weapons.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet on June 12 in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the White House announced on May 11 after North Korea released three American prisoners in advance of the talks.

During the ASNE briefing Q&A, Gregg Zoroya of USA TODAY asked Thornton why North Korea’s leader would have an incentive to strike a deal on nuclear weapons if he sees that these deals (as in the case of Iran) might last only so long as a remaining term of a president.

North Korean flagThornton responded that Kim has promised his people that he would provide them economic development and a better life along with nuclear weapons.

Sanctions led by the Trump administration, she said, are pressuring North Korea’s economy and are “what’s bringing him to this point.”

“The United States,” she said, more generally, “is a Pacific power and we’re going to remain a Pacific power.”

Andrew Kreig is a Washington, DC-based commentator who edits the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project (justice-integrity.org). He began his career at the Hartford Courant before becoming a non-profit executive lecturing widely, including in Beijing, Tokyo, Sydney and Singapore, about communications issues.


asne logoHeritage panel: Conservatism supports, survives Trump

By Andrew Kreig

The conservative movement’s policies largely coincide with President Donald Trump’s agenda and so will emerge intact if not stronger following his presidency.

That was the view of at least three of four conservative scholars convened on May 6 at The Heritage Foundation by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE).

lee edwards catholic university“We did some surveying,” said Dr. Lee Edwards (shown at right), the panel moderator and Heritage Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought, “and we found out that the Trump administration adopted 64 percent of the recommendations in our latest mandate for leadership. 64 percent. By the way, that’s almost the same percentage as that adopted by the Reagan Administration in his first year.”

Two of the panelists — Dr. Michael Franc of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and Dr. Matthew Spalding of Hillsdale College — concurred in general, saying that Trump reflects vital parts of the conservative movement.

mona charenBut syndicated columnist Mona Charen (shown in a file photo), a senior fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, raised a warning for conservative movement.

“Can conservatism survive this taint?” she said. “I’m not sure.”

“Trump is transforming American conservatism into a playground for criminals and villains,” she concluded. “Trump’s staggering lies are a blot on the party and all who support or justify them.”

The panel at a Heritage conference room a few blocks north of U.S. Senate office buildings launched a half-day program at the foundation and at a nearby Hillsdale building that ASNE arranged to enhance member interactions with newsworthy thought-leaders and their topics.

Edwards, moderator of the opening panel at Heritage, is a prominent historian of conservatism and is the author or editor of 25 books. They include biographies of President Reagan, Sen. Barry Goldwater, National Review founder William F. Buckley, Jr. and Reagan Attorney Gen. Edwin Meese III.

Edwards opened the panel, entitled, “Can Conservatism Survive Trump?” by answering, “No.”

“Just kidding,” he continued. “Yes, of course they can survive.”

Edwards described conservatism as an intellectual “movement” with more resiliency than a political “party,” particularly one dominated by a president.

Charen listed conservative goals advanced by the Trump administration. Among them were trust in “market forces” over regulation, “judicial restraint” and increased military spending.

She then cited what she called Trump’s departures from conservative goals, including what she described as his failure to support free trade agreements, sound budgets that control increased deficits, established, rules-based congressional procedures that serve as a check-and-balance on the executive branch, and norms of decent political behavior.

Regarding the latter, she criticized, for example, what she called his lies, hiring of relatives and adulterous behavior.

Franc, the director of the Hoover Institution’s programs based in Washington, DC,  took a more positive view of the administration’s actions and its prospects.

Franc described Trump’s polarization of the political class as continuing a long-term trend that is good for conservatives and their advocacy groups, such as his.

“The ‘sorting process,’ which I’m fascinated by, is almost complete by a lot of different measures” on Capitol Hill said Franc, explaining that Republicans and Democrats are almost entirely divided along conservative-liberal lines, with few conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans remaining.

Regarding specific actions like agency decision-making and judicial appointments, Franc continued, “I think one of the reasons I tend to be happy with most of his domestic policy activity is because, whether he wanted to or not, this president was forced to only choose people who come to him via the Federalist Society, Heritage or other conservative institutions.”

Sharing a positive view of the Trump legacy was Spalding, Hillsdale College’s associate vice president and its dean of educational programs. A former Heritage executive, Spalding said a legitimate question is “should conservatism survive Trump,” given the president’s rare ability to raise popular issues missed by many other politicians.

During a question-and-answer period, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Opinions/Solutions Editor David D. Haynes asked, “Should the Republican Party ‘survive’ Trump — and is there anyone in the party now … who you would put your money on to stand up for this ‘integrity….?’”

“One of the problems is that both parties are extremely weak,” Spalding responded. “Right now, Trump is dominant and Congress has to work with that.”

Andrew Kreig is a Washington, DC-based commentator who edits the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project (justice-integrity.org), which reports on misconduct claims against federal prosecutors and other officials. He began his career with 14 years at the Hartford Courant before becoming an attorney, law clerk to a federal judge and non-profit executive.


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Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Cancels Meeting With Kim, Citing ‘Open Hostility,’ Eileen Sullivan, May 24, 2018, The meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un had been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. Mr. Trump cited “tremendous anger” from the North Korean side.

President Trump has notified Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, that he has canceled their much-anticipated meeting, which was set for June 12.

In a letter dated Thursday to Mr. Kim, the American president said he would not attend the summit due to “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement.” He was referring to recent comments from a North Korean official who described Vice President Mike Pence as “ignorant and stupid.”

ny times logoNew York Times, North Korea Says It Has Destroyed Nuclear Test Site, Choe Sang-Hun, May 24, 2018. North Korea said on Thursday that it had destroyed its only known nuclear test site, three weeks before its leader, Kim Jong-un, is scheduled to meet with President Trump.

North Korean flagNorth Korea allowed a select group of journalists from Britain, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States to watch its engineers destroy and close tunnels in its mountainous Punggye-ri test site, where the country has conducted all six of its nuclear tests. No independent outside nuclear monitors were invited to verify the dismantlement of the site.

The action came two days after Mr. Trump backed away from his demand that Mr. Kim completely abandon his nuclear arsenal without any reciprocal American concessions. In the ceremony on Thursday, North Korea used explosives to destroy three of its four tunnels at the Punggye-ri test site, according to dispatches by reporters at the scene. The fourth tunnel had already been closed for fear of contamination after the North’s first nuclear test in 2006.

usa today logoUSA Today, South Korean president calls cancellation of Trump-Kim summit 'very regrettable,' Thomas Maresca and Jane Onyanga-Omara, May 24, 2018. South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the cancellation of next month's landmark summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "very regrettable and unfortunate" and urged the two leaders to talk to each other directly.

moon jae in 2017 10 01Moon issued the statement after convening a late-night emergency meeting Thursday at the Blue House with top security aides and Cabinet members in response to Trump's abrupt cancellation of the scheduled June 12 summit in Singapore.

Moon said that establishing enduring peace and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula are “historic tasks that cannot be abandoned or delayed.” The Trump-Kim talks would have been the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

The cancellation appeared to take the South Korean leader by surprise. In an initial response, Moon's spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told reporters, "We are trying to figure out what President Trump's intention is and what it's exact meaning is."

djt north korean commemorative coin

Hill Reporter, Donald Trump Mints Commemorative Coin For ‘Supreme Leader’ Kim Jong Un, James Kosur, May 22, 2018. President Trump has released a new commemorative coin ahead of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The coin, struck by the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), features a picture of Jong Un who the coin refers to as the “Supreme Leader” of North Korea.

The opposite side of the coin depicts Air Force One flying over the White House and the presidential seal with the title “Visit of the President.” The WHCA is known for minting commemorative coins for various foreign dignitaries and military veterans. The coins are available for purchase in the White House gift shop.

Following outcries over the “supreme leader” title, Deputy White House spokesperson Raj Shah said the administration “did not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo vows U.S., Mideast allies will ‘crush’ Iranian operatives around the world, Carol Morello, May 21, 2018. In his first major foreign policy address as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo laid out a list of demands Iran must agree to before sanctions are lifted.

mike pompeo portraitSecretary of State Mike Pompeo (shown at right) on Monday launched a sweeping broadside against the Iranian government, vowing to use all U.S. economic and military might to destroy its economy and “crush” its operatives and proxies around the world.

In his first major foreign policy address as secretary of state, Pompeo listed a dozen demands, an agenda encompassing Iran’s foreign ventures as well as its nuclear and missile programs. If Iran agrees to those demands, he said, the United States would lift all sanctions, reestablish diplomatic relations with Tehran and provide it access to advanced technology.

Pompeo said he will work with the Defense Department and regional allies — a group that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states — to “deter Iranian aggression” in the region, including at sea and in cyberspace.

“We will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region,” he said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, a conservative think tank whose ideas have been embraced by the Trump administration. “We will work to prevent and counteract any Iranian malign cyberactivity. We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them. Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

State Department officials say the aim of the speech is to outline a path forward after President Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions, a decision that immediately puts the United States in breach of its commitments.

Many European officials, including those who negotiated the Iran agreement alongside the United States, have chafed at the Trump administration’s positions on Iran, the Paris climate accord, moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and trade tariffs. “With friends like that, who needs enemies,” European Council President Donald Tusk groused recently.

The new secretary of state, now in his fourth week in office, made clear that the United States is prepared to square off with Europe, using secondary sanctions against companies that do business in Iran.


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