With rival camps in his inner circle, Trump's ideas on North Korea have evolved

Similarly, inside the Trump administration, a camp opposing Bolton had been gaining traction. Some advisors worried the president had set unattainable goals, and that he might agree to a deal in Singapore, perhaps by drawing down U.S. troops in South Korea, that could be potentially dangerous to U.S. interests.

Senior State Department officials feared Bolton was setting Trump up for failure. After Mike Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of State on April 26 — shortly after he had made a secret trip to Pyongyang as CIA director — he began to stake out a counterbalance to Bolton.

He and others concluded that any likely North Korean disarmament would require a step-by-step approach, with clearly delineated goals at each phase, and reciprocal concessions by the United States and its allies to keep the process moving.