Trump again speaks of nuclear war during 17-day vacation at his New Jersey golf club
Developments of Day 203 on the Trump Administration:
Trump: “Maybe It Wasn’t Tough Enough”
Defying critics for his warning of nuclear war with North Korea, Donald Trump doubles down on the rhetoric.
Speaking again to journalists during his vacation at his New Jersey golf club, Trump said of his Tuesday statement that Pyongyang “will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen”: “Maybe it wasn’t tough enough.”
Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, Trump said that it was time a US President “stuck up for the country”. He again declined to explain what action he would take: “We don’t talk about that.”
Trump declared that he was willing to negotiate, but said negotiations had failed over the last 25 years under three Presidents: Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Trump stepped up the war of words on Tuesday, following the claims of US officials that North Korea is now capable of putting a miniaturized nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. After a scheduled statement on opioid addiction, he made the ad hoc comments that “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States”.
While aides — including new Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was supposed to bring order to Trump’s impromptu declarations in public and on Twitter — expected a tough Trump message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, they were not prepared for the warning. Nor did they expect Trump’s Twitter follow-up on Wednesday, in which he implictly spoke of nuclear war by bragging — falsely — that he has supervised a build-up of America’s arsenal.
The North Korean military has been undeterred by Trump. It quickly responded to Tuesday’s statement by asserting that it could “turn the U.S. mainland into the theater of a nuclear war”. On Thursday the military specifically threatened Guam, the Pacific island with a strategic US airbase, with the declaration of a plan by mid-August to fire four midrange missiles into nearby waters to create a “historic enveloping fire”.
Trump responded yesterday, “Let’s see what [Kim] does with Guam. He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before. You’ll see, you’ll see. And he’ll see.”
Trump Defends Putin’s Expulsion of US Diplomats
While denouncing Kim Jong-un, Trump gave a fulsome defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his expulsion of more than 750 US diplomats.
On July 30 Putin ordered US posts in Russia to reduce staff from 1,210 to 455, retaliating for new Congressional sanctions on Moscow.
Trump said on Thursday, “I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back….We’re going to save a lot of money.”
It was Trump’s first comment about the matter.
The State Department had no immediate reaction.
Trump Picks Fight With Senate Majority Leader McConnell
And while thanking Putin, Trump continued to pick a fight with the GOP’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Since Wednesday, Trump has pursued Twitter criticism of McConnell, after the Majority Leader tried to downplay the GOP’s failure to repeal ObamaCare with the statement that Trump had inflated expectations of what could be achieved:
Senator Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
Yesterday Trump put the tweets into spoken words: “I just want him to get repeal and replace done. I’ve been hearing repeal and replace now for seven years….Mitch, get to work and let’s get it done.”
Asked if McConnell should consider stepping down, Trump said:
If he doesn’t get repeal and replace done, and he doesn’t get taxes done…and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done – infrastructure – if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question.
52% of Republicans: Postpone 2020 Election If Trump Proposes It
More than half of Republican voters say they would support a postponement of the 2020 election if suggested by Donald Trump, according to a poll of 650 people supporting the GOP.
The survey of 1,325 Americans in June focused on Trump’s false claims that millions of Americans voted illegally in the 2016 election, in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million despite losing the Electoral College. The poll asked, “If Donald Trump were to say that the 2020 presidential election should be postponed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote, would you support or oppose postponing the election?”
Of those identifying as Republican, 47% believed that Trump won the popular vote. Even more believed that millions of illegal immigrants voted (68%) and that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often (73%).
In fact, voter fraud in 21st-century US elections has been rare. However, Trump’s false statements and tweets have been amplified by a White House commission formed to investigate the issue.
Critics claim that Trump and the commission are trying to set up pretexts to disqualify qualified voters.