During his tenure in the White House, former President Trump floated the idea of striking North Korea with a nuclear weapon and blaming the attack on another country, according to the new afterword of a book from New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt.
Then-White House chief of staff John Kelly was reportedly concerned by both Trump’s provocative Twitter messages about the country and his private talks, according to excerpts of Schmidt’s “Donald Trump v. the United States” shared by NBC News.
“What scared Kelly even more than the tweets was the fact that behind closed doors in the Oval Office, Trump continued to talk as if he wanted to go to war. He cavalierly discussed the idea of using a nuclear weapon against North Korea, saying that if he took such an action, the administration could blame someone else for it to absolve itself of responsibility,” Schmidt writes.
According to the book, Kelly attempted to dissuade Trump from the idea, saying the U.S. would likely be found out if it went through with such a plan and underscoring the consequences and casualties likely in any conflict with North Korea.
But Trump seemed dogged about the idea of an attack, Schmidt reports, and further raised “the possibility of launching a preemptive military attack against North Korea.”
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ 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 tweeted back in 2018.
Schmidt’s book, first published in 2020, is set to be released next week in paperback with the new afterword included.