President Trump, returning from a day trip in which he played the role of consoler-in-chief, spoke on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the ever present threat of North Korea, whose weapons program managed to once again ensnared headlines on Saturday.
While on Air Force One, travelling back to Washington, D.C., after visiting Hurricane Harvey victims, local officials and rescue workers in Houston, Texas, and Lake Charles, La., Trump and Abe discussed "ongoing efforts to maximize pressure on North Korea," according to a readout of the call provided by the White House.
Earlier in the evening, news broke -- announced by the North Korean state-run news agency KCNA -- that Kim Jong Un's regime had developed a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile. Though dubious, the latest boast by Pyongyang continues a concerted effort to advance its missile and nuclear weapons program despite international pressure, including United Nations sanctions, to put a stop to it.
On Sunday an earthquake was detected by both the U.S. Geological Survey and South Korea, raising concerns the hermit nation conducted its sixth nuclear test.
The readout of the Trump-Abe made no mention of the hydrogen bomb, but the they did "[reaffirm] the importance of close cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea in the face of the growing threat from North Korea." The call was the third such conversation the two leaders have had since North Korea launched a missile that flew over Japan last week. North Korea also again threatened the U.S. territory of Guam.
Though Trump recently tweeted "talking is not the answer" in regards to the North Korea threat, the readout hinted otherwise, noting that he "looks forward to continued trilateral coordination on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly."
On Friday Trump also spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and gave "conceptual approval of planned purchases" of military equipment, according to a White House readout of that call.
Elsewhere on the international relations front, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., traveled to Italy, where he slammed Trump and recommitted the U.S.'s role in the world. And tensions simmered between the U.S. and Russia. Moscow complained when it said the FBI had raided its diplomatic facilities across the U.S. that were shut down in retaliation to Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering the U.S. to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 employees. That move was made as backlash to U.S. sanctions over 2016 election interference.
The bulk of Trump's Saturday was spent in Texas and Louisiana, which are still recovering from Harvey, a storm that made landfall more than a week ago as a Category 4 hurricane and whose subsequent flooding has effected millions. The confirmed death toll in connection to Harvey rose to 44 on Saturday, and there remains widespread power outages as some areas are dealing with more than 50 inches of rain. There have also been reports of explosions at a chemical plant outside Houston.
Trump, alongside his wife Melania, and members of his Cabinet, greeted, consoled, took selfies with, and even doled out supplies to victims of the storm in Houston. It was his second visit to Texas in a week's time.
The commander in chief also managed to sneak in a zinger at the press while complimenting the Coast Guard, and also had what appeared to be a friendly meeting with Texas Democrats who have in the past called for his impeachment.
After Texas, Trump travelled to Louisiana where he met with emergency responders and representatives of the "Cajun Navy" who are boat owners who used their vessels to help with rescue operations.
Trump returned to Washington, D.C., in the evening Saturday and while he has nothing currently listed on his public schedule for the balance of the Labor Day weekend, except for a call with NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson on Sunday, he faces a week in which Congress returns to town from its summer recess and is expected to consider the White House's request for $7.85 billion in immediate relief funding.
Trump has also declared Sunday a National Day of Prayer for those people affected by Harvey.
Just got back to the White House from the Great States of Texas and Louisiana, where things are going well. Such cooperation & coordination!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017
Remember, Sunday is National Prayer Day (by Presidential Proclamation)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017