Trump brags his nuclear button is ‘much bigger’ than Kim Jong Un's in Twitter tirade
An attack on his own Justice Department, an absurd boast about airplane safety, “Rocket Man,” a response to Fox News — all in a morning’s work for the U.S. president.
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WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump attacked his own Justice Department, called for the imprisonment of a political opponent, inaccurately criticized the New York Times, took unearned credit for airplanes not crashing, made a nonsensical claim about the politics of immigration, conducted high-stakes foreign policy while referring to North Korea’s dictator by a derogatory nickname, and responded to a Fox News program he was watching.
All on Twitter. All in three hours.
And then he went back online later in the day – to issue a startling boast that his own nuclear “button” is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s, to announce he would be giving out awards to “THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA,” and to issue a confusing pronouncement on the Middle East.
Happy 2018! In Washington, it looks a lot like 2017.
“I’m going to take a stab and guess that ‘Fewer Crazy Tweets’ was not one of Donald Trump’s New Year’s resolutions for 2018,” tweeted Dan Pfeiffer, former White House communications director to Barack Obama.
Trump saved his most alarming tweet for the evening: a response to Kim’s Sunday taunt about his capacity to begin a nuclear war.
“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!” Trump wrote.
Sixteen minutes later, he switched to another subject entirely.
“I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media,” he wrote.
The tweets began, as they usually do, in the morning. On his first day back from vacation, Trump had nothing on his Tuesday schedule other than his daily intelligence briefing and lunch. That left him even more time than usual for his morning ritual: watch Fox, stew about things.
His nine-tweet morning series, between 7:09 a.m. and 10:16 a.m., grew stranger as it proceeded. The oddest claim came at 9:13: Trump suggested that he was the reason there were no fatal commercial jet crashes in 2017.
“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation,” he wrote. “Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”
The morning tweet that most troubled Trump’s critics was yet another attack on his Justice Department. Trump, who is unhappy with the department’s role in the probe into his campaign’s links to Russia, called it the “Deep State Justice Dept” — using a term that suggests he believes there is a secret anti-Trump conspiracy among department employees.
He did so, moreover, while demanding “jail” for Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin — Abedin, according to the right-wing Daily Caller, was found to have forwarded passwords for her government laptop to her personal Yahoo email account — and seeking unspecified action against former FBI director James Comey, who has testified that Trump attempted to thwart the Russia probe.
“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid(e), Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others,” he wrote.
Trump thanked a Border Patrol union leader for praising him on his beloved morning show, Fox and Friends. He also weighed in on the protests in Iran, jabbing at Obama while denouncing the Iranian government.
“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!” he wrote.
Trump claimed progress on North Korea, citing the two recent cases in which a soldier fled across the border. As usual, he referred to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man.” As often, he left his own policy position unclear.
“Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!” he wrote.
The latest tweet in the series was one of the hardest to understand. Against all evidence, Trump claimed that pro-immigrant activists and Hispanics more generally will get so mad at Democrats, because Democrats have not saved a program protecting “Dreamer” immigrants, that these activists and Hispanics “will start ‘falling in love’ with Republicans and their President!”
But Trump is the one who killed that program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Obama created it. While some activists are unhappy about the tactics Democrats have used in trying to negotiate a solution for Dreamers, they are far angrier at Trump for abandoning it; at Dreamer protests, activists regularly call Trump a “white supremacist.”
Trump also posted two evening tweets on the Middle East peace process. These were also potentially consequential: he questioned U.S. aid to the Palestinians, complaining that the U.S. gets “no appreciation or respect” in exchange.
“But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” he wrote.
Trump also declared that he had “taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.” That claim appeared to conflict with the statement he made in December when he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he said then.