Lawmakers slam Trump's promise to unleash 'fire and fury' on North Korea

"They will be met with fire and fury," Trump said of N. Korea's nuclear plans.

August 8, 2017, 8:01 PM

— -- Following President Donald Trump's warning to North Korea on Tuesday that the U.S. would unleash "fire and fury" upon the rogue nation if its threats of nuclear warfare continue, some lawmakers from both sides of the aisle slammed the president's comments as incendiary and inappropriate.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said during an opioid crisis briefing in Bedminster, New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Trump’s proclamation appeared to have an immediate effect on Wall Street, with the Dow ending its 9-day streak of record closes as investors fled from Trump’s response, according to NASDAQ.

"Trump's response was aggressive and that's why the market turned lower," Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor at O’Neil Securities, said in a statement Tuesday.

Trump’s anger towards North Korea and its leader came as the Washington Post first reported that the Defense Intelligence Agency’s July 28 report noted that North Korea had produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery.

The president’s announcement was met with a largely critical response.

During an interview with Phoenix radio station KTAR News 92.3 Tuesday afternoon, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, spoke out against Trump’s statements. “I take the exception to the president’s comments.” he said. "You got to be sure that you can do what you say you’re going to do.”

“It's not terrible what he said but it's kind of classic Trump in that he overstates things,” McCain added. “In other words, the old walk softly but carry a big stick, Teddy Roosevelt's saying, which I think is something, should've applied because all it's going to do is bring us closer to a serious confrontation. The great leaders that I've seen, they don't threaten until they're ready to act.”

When questioned what he would do about North Korea, McCain said his first step would be to “talk to the Chinese.”

Despite recent missile tests, McCain said “I think the rotund ruler in Pyongyang is crazy, but he’s not ready to go to the brink." When asked to rank the threat of North Korea on a scale of one to ten, McCain placed the threat at a “six” or possibly a “seven.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, called Trump’s “fire and fury” comment “bombastic movements” and said, “The United States must quickly engage North Korea in a high-level dialogue without any preconditions.” She also added that she hoped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was discussing the possibility of reopening talks with the U.S.’s Asian partners during his current trip to Asia. “In my view,” Feinstein stated, “diplomacy is the only sound path forward.”

Feinstein’s comment echoed those of Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, on August 4 when she said the “diplomatic route” was the best route forward” for the U.S. as a “regime change can’t be expected” on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said Trump’s comments act as proof that “he lacks the temperament and judgement to deal with the serious crisis the United States confronts” in a statement. Cardin added that people shouldn’t be tempted to hope that North Korea’s “nuclear program can be destroyed with a single antiseptic surgical strike.”

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, jabbed Trump softly in his first response tweet saying, “This is unwise.”

This is unwise.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 8, 2017

However, he proceeded to advise that the “Ambassador to South Korea, Secretary for East Asia Affairs and Secretary for Asian Pacific Security Affairs” be sent to the Senate “now” to figure out the rising tensions. In a third tweet, Schatz stressed that “professionals” were needed to guide the North Korea situation, especially given the “wars in the Middle East.”

Schatz’ worry comes on the heels of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency’s release of guidelines to survive nuclear detonation on July 25.

We need Ambassador to South Korea, Secretary for East Asia Affairs, and Secretary for Asian Pacific Security Affairs sent to Senate now.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 8, 2017

We need professionals guiding this process. We learned from our wars in the Middle East- bad decisions can make a terrible situation worse.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 8, 2017

Guam’s U.S. delegate, Madeleine Z. Bordallo voiced out Tuesday evening that Trump “must work in partnership” with the international community to “de-escalate the growing tensions” in the region and also “show steady leadership” as the recent United Nation sanctions against North Korea are carried out.

Bordallo also dispelled rumors that North Korea was “seriously considering” a plan to target Guam--a U.S. territory off the coast of Japan and Philippines -- noting that Guam “remains safe.”

“I am confident in the ability of U.S. defenses to protect our island and allies in the region.”

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, tweeted that Trump’s statement was “reckless” and that “we need de-escalation, not a miscalculation.”

Reckless for @POTUS to make provocative statements about North Korea & back US into a corner. We need de-escalation, not a miscalculation.

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 8, 2017

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona, took issue with the president's remarks, and his administration's failure so far to nominate an ambassador to South Korea.

"@POTUS's warning that North Korean threats will be answered by 'fire & fury' is irresponsible & alarming," Gallego wrote. "Instead of threats & over-the-top rhetoric, we need to pursue a smart, long-term strategy to address these growing threats ... Among the steps we should immediately consider are further economic sanctions aimed at those who continue to trade w/ North Korea."

Gallego wrote in a subsequent tweet, "It's also outrageous that Trump has barely lifted a finger to nominate an Ambassador to S. Korea or fill State Dept. diplomatic positions."

Dan Pfeiffer, former senior adviser to former President Barack Obama for communications, tweeted multiple times about Trump’s statements. “Don’t gloss over the fact that Trump threatened what can only be interpreted as a nuclear attack on North Korea if Kim Jong-un taunts him,” he wrote.

Don't gloss over the fact that Trump threatened what can only be intrepreted as a nuclear attack on North Korea if Kim Jong-un taunts him

— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 8, 2017

In another tweet, Pfeiffer added that he wanted to know if new chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, or National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster knew what Trump was going to say about North Korea.

I want to know if Kelly, Mattis, Tillerson, or McMaster knew what was going to come out of Trump's mouth about North Korea

— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 8, 2017

Tommy Vietor, former National Security Council spokesman for Obama spoke to the fear reverberating across Twitter of Trump sounding like the North Korean leader. “The President of the United States shouldn’t sound like Kim Jong Un. It antagonizes everyone while accomplishing nothing.”

The President of the United States shouldn't sound like Kim Jong Un. It antagonizes everyone while accomplishing nothing.

— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) August 8, 2017

President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass said in a tweet that Asia “has been stable for decades,” but that “that could be ending” with the North Korea threat.

Asia/Pacific has been stable for decades; that could be ending w N Korea threat, Japan & S Korea rearming, China push vs India & in SC Sea

— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) August 8, 2017

Despite the large amount of criticism the announcement received, others showed their support for the president's statement.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained to reporters that "What the President was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea in a language that Kim Jong Un would understand." "It was important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part," Tillerson added. He later commented "Americans should sleep well at night. I have no concerns about this particular rhetoric over the last few days."

In an appearance on CBS This Morning Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, appeared to defend Trump's statements in spite of the threat of what he called a "horrific war." "President Trump has basically drawn a red line, saying he will never allow North Korea to have an ICBM weapon that can hit America with a missile on top," Graham said. "He's going to pick homeland defense over regional stability and he has to." When asked if he believed the U.S. was prepared to act, Graham responded "Oh, absolutely."

The chairman of Students for Trump, Ryan Fournier defended Trump’s statement. Fournier tweeted that “President Trump is standing up for the United States,” adding that “North Korea better sit back down.”

President Trump is standing up for the United States. North Korea better sit back down.

— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) August 8, 2017
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