- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump’s fiery tweet in which he touted a “bigger & more powerful” nuclear button prompted swift backlash from national-security experts, lawmakers, and former government officials on Tuesday night.
- Critics said Trump’s remarks were juvenile, and others called for his resignation.
President Donald Trump’s tweet in which he rhetorically touted a “bigger & more powerful” nuclear button sparked backlash from many national-security experts and lawmakers Tuesday, fueling worries of about an escalating nuclear crisis and calling into question Trump’s fitness as president.
Trump continued Tuesday’s Twitter tirade on an assortment of different topics after returning to the White House from a holiday break at his Mar-a-Lago resort in south Florida. His tweet that rankled critics appeared to reference North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s televised speech on New Year’s Day, in which Kim alluded to a “nuclear button” that he said was “always on my desk.”
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,'” Trump said on Twitter. “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!”
Critics immediately called Trump’s words juvenile and others even called for his resignation:
If you love our country, help me put this lunacy in check. Tell @realDonaldTrump this is not normal behavior. Any @HouseGOP members want to make sure Congress has some say before he pushes that button? https://t.co/qI7pVc3I5I
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) January 3, 2018
If there are any adults at the WH: please disable the @realDonaldTrump smartphone immediately. Nuclear diplomacy shouldn't be conducted as if its a junior high school argument about penis size. Such reckless tweeting diminishes U.S. credibility and can lead to catastrophe. https://t.co/35LVG0JUqc
— Daryl G Kimball (@DarylGKimball) January 3, 2018
Dear @realDonaldTrump: If the US used nuclear weapons in Korea, not only would we kill a lot of Koreans, we would also kill a lot of Americans. It could also cause China or Russia to miscalculate. Either of those countries have a nuclear button that can annihilate America. https://t.co/j7CgRObHJm
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 3, 2018
“Why would you want to goad this unpredictable leader of North Korea to maybe demonstrate his capabilities,” asked Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut during an interview on CNN. “We’ve gotten to a place, a very weird place, where it really doesn’t matter what the President of the United States says anymore, because it is so bizarre, strange, not true, infantile.”
President George W. Bush’s chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter also did not mince words:
This Tweet alone is grounds for removal from office under the 25th Amendment. This man should not have nukes. https://t.co/ymWija85o3
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) January 3, 2018
Other former US officials and political operatives weighed in, making light of some undertones in Trump’s tweet:
“…that I too have a ——, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my —— works!”
This game of insecure men is as old as time, and doesn’t end well. https://t.co/sdWA3Khxr5
— Azita Raji (@azitaraji) January 3, 2018
Mr. President, we must not allow… a button gap! https://t.co/DkREBtNe8b
— Abraham M. Denmark (@AbeDenmark) January 3, 2018
A few hours ago I was reading up on possible Iran sanctions. Now I'm reading up on Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 3, 2018
Matthew Gertz at Media Matters noted that Trump’s tweet came 12 minutes after Fox News aired a segment on Kim Jong Un’s remarks, which the North Korean leader had made nearly 24 hours earlier.