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'This is dangerous': Trump's North Korea tweet alarms Democratic lawmakers

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

Members of Congress returning to Washington were quick to condemn President Trump’s Tuesday-night tweet taunting North Korea’s Kim Jong Un about the sizes of their so-called nuclear buttons.

“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,’” Trump wrote. “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”


Democratic lawmakers tore into Trump for casually invoking the specter of a nuclear war. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., wrote on Twitter that the tweet “borders on presidential malpractice.”





“I guess the president regards this as a show of strength,” Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said on CNN. “But as everybody who’s ever been in a, you know, first-grade playground recognizes, it’s usually the person who’s most aggressively pounding their chest that is in fact the weak one on the playground.”

Meanwhile, some national security experts worried aloud about Trump’s state of mind.

Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at Washington’s Ethics & Public Policy Center and veteran of three Republican presidential administrations, said Trump’s recent behavior is “more evidence we’re watching an American president psychologically, emotionally and cognitively decompose.”






Others wondered whether the provocative tweet violated Twitter’s terms of service.



Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, mocked the concern.


To the president’s core supporters, the “nuclear button” tweet was just Trump being Trump. And to Michael Flynn Jr., who served on Trump’s transition team and is the son of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, it was “why Trump was elected.”



Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump’s tweet in an interview with Voice of America’s Greta Van Susteren.

“President Trump made it clear,” Pence said. “America will not be bullied. America will not be threatened. And that the United States of America has, by being clear, managed to marshal an unprecedented amount of economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.”

Pence’s predecessor, former Vice President Joe Biden, said that Trump’s tweets taunting North Korea show “really poor judgment.”

“The only war that’s worse than one intended is one that’s unintended,” Biden told CNN. “This is not a game. This is not about, ‘Can I puff by chest out bigger than your chest?’ It’s just not, it’s not presidential.”

Trump’s latest display of social media saber-rattling caps a months-long war of words with Kim and the rogue nuclear nation.

In a September speech to the United Nations, Trump warned that the United States may be forced to “totally destroy North Korea” if it proceeds with its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programs.

The next month, Trump referred to Kim as “short and fat.”


On Tuesday, the president reiterated his preferred nickname for the North Korean dictator.


“Sanctions and ‘other’ pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea,” Trump tweeted. “Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not — we will see!”

Cover tile photo: Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: Mike Theiler/Pool via Bloomberg, KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images

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