A working lunch between the two negotiating teams was scrapped. So was a ceremony intended to mark the signing of a joint agreement between the two countries. Plans for setting up a liaison office in North Korea, which the two leaders discussed in front of reporters on Wednesday, never materialized.

At around 12:45 p.m. Hanoi time, it became clear the summit was ending with no deal when the White House announced a “program change” and moved up the press conference by two hours, telling reporters the president would appear at 2:00 p.m. rather than at 4:00 p.m. as initially planned. Audible murmurs spread through the buses where the White House press corps was corralled en route to the press conference…

The president’s willingness to leave Hanoi without a deal came as a relief to some of his aides, who had expressed concern in the days leading up to the summit that the president — eager to divert attention from his ballooning domestic troubles, which flared Wednesday as his former fixer decried him as a con man, a liar and a cheat before a House panel — would trade major concessions for empty promises.