President Donald Trump is set to be the first sitting U.S. president to meet with a North Korean leader, the White House confirmed yesterday. The two have had a volatile relationship in the past, trading insults like “rocket man” and “dotard,” but North Korea has pledged to stop missile tests until talks are held this spring, even as U.S. sanctions on Pyongyang continue. South Korea, which will hold its own summit with Kim in April, has said total denuclearization is the goal — and that North Korea is open to such terms.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’s put the pedal to the metal. Risking almost certain retaliation from major trading partners like the EU and China, President Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing high tariffs on metal imports. European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi responded, “If you put tariffs against your allies, you wonder who your enemies are.” Exemptions for Canada and Mexico were added to Trump’s plan, but are contingent on renegotiation of NAFTA. Meanwhile, 11 countries signed a revised Pacific trade pact — which Trump abandoned last year, heightening the sense of U.S. isolation.
Airstrikes and shelling killed 90 people overnight in eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held area near Damascus, as President Bashar Assad’s government continued its all-out assault for the third week. Aid convoys were forced to turn back under bombardment, but one has reportedly now entered the besieged area carrying food and medical supplies — though not enough for the estimated 400,000 people in desperate need. Doctors say they’ve treated multiple civilians who appear to be victims of chemical weapon attacks, echoing previous gas attacks on villages by Assad’s government.
He Otter know better. In January, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter issued an executive order calling for health plans that contravene Affordable Care Act provisions — such as charging higher rates for pre-existing conditions or refusing to cover maternity care — and changed state rules to let insurers offer such plans if they have at least one that meets ACA requirements. Now, despite the Trump administration’s longstanding hostility toward Obamacare, the government’s warned Idaho it must comply with federal law, while Idaho hopes new ACA revisions could allow it more leeway.
Know This: The NYPD is reportedly on the verge of making an arrest in the case of rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein. A lawsuit from a porn actress who says she was paid to keep quiet about her alleged affair with President Trump could go to public trial — and if it does, that could mean Trump may have to testify, potentially opening himself up to wider allegations about campaign finance. And Serena Williams has won her first singles match after a 14-month hiatus from tennis to give birth to her daughter.
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.
Listen Up: OZY’s podcast, The Thread, is back. This season, we’ll travel through nearly a century of history leading up to the #MeToo movement by profiling the original silence-breakers and the men who exploited them. Listen to the trailer or subscribe for free here.
He can be a hard act to follow. President Trump’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter — rendering them unable to see his timeline — sparked a lawsuit claiming he was violating users’ First Amendment rights by restricting participation in a public forum. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald is recommending a compromise: Trump should mute his critics, so he won’t see their posts, but they can see his tweets, which are “official statements” according to the White House. Buchwald says if no settlement is reached, she’ll make a precedent-setting ruling.
While the opioid epidemic began in America’s rural and suburban white communities — partly because Black patients are less likely to be prescribed painkillers like OxyContin — statistics say that’s changing. Opioid overdose deaths among middle-aged Black men in Washington, D.C., surged 245 percent between 2014 and 2017, while nationwide African-American drug deaths in urban counties rose 41 percent in 2016 alone. Meanwhile, new data released by the CDC shows that emergency room visits for opioid overdoses jumped 30 percent last year, indicating the crisis isn’t slowing.
Don’t blame the bots. New research shows that inaccurate information passed off as truth is 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than factual reports. A team at MIT, inspired by fake news generated after the Boston Marathon bombing, analyzed 126,000 news stories tweeted by 3 million people over 11 years, and found that humans are far more likely to spread fake news than robots. But with further data showing that even fact-checking sites can’t change people’s minds about fake stories, it’s not clear what, if anything, can be done.
Though the deal isn’t yet finalized, Barack and Michelle Obama are reportedly in late-stage negotiations to produce an exclusive series of shows for the streaming service. The deal would mark a departure from the traditional post-presidency book contract — although the Obamas have those too. Rather than serve as a platform to rebut President Trump’s policies, the shows plan to highlight inspirational stories. They’ll also allow the former president unfiltered access to Netflix’s 118 million subscribers worldwide — in addition to his current 101 million Twitter followers.
LSU running back Derrius Guice says that during NFL recruitment, he was asked whether he was gay — “just to see my reaction” — and whether his mother is a prostitute. The league says it’s “looking into” Guice’s case, noting that personal questions, though some say they help get a sense of a player’s personality, are against NFL policies. But this isn’t a first: In 2010, the Atlanta Falcons asked a potential draft pick if he was gay — and while the NFL called it “clearly inappropriate,” the league took no disciplinary action.