President Donald Trump refused to back down on his controversial statement to use “fire and fury” against North Korea should they continue to escalate their nuclear threats, instead insisting that the reportedly off-the-cuff comment “wasn’t tough enough.”
During a press conference at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Thursday afternoon, Trump stated, “Frankly, the people who were questioning that statement — was it too tough — maybe it wasn’t tough enough.”
“They’ve been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years,” Trump continued, while Vice President Mike Pence stood silently by his side. “And it’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and the people of other countries.”
When asked by a reporter “What would be tougher than fire and fury?” Trump responded, “Well, you’ll see, you’ll see.”
Following the president’s initial comments on Wednesday – which were spurred by reports that North Korea may have successfully created a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles – North Korea said it was making plans to launch four intermediate-range ballistic missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam, reported the New York Times.
According to North Korea’s official news agency, Gen. Kim Rak-gyom – the Korean People’s Army’s strategic force commander – further said that Trump is “bereft of reason,” and that his comments were “a load of nonsense,” reported the Times.
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But Trump rebuffed any suggestion this his threat was “nonsense” on Thursday, stating that “North Korea better get their act together or they’re going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble in this world.”
The president also attempted to assure an increasingly nervous nation, saying Thursday that Americans “should be very comfortable” and not worry — adding that if North Korea does “anything” against the U.S. or our allies, “Things will happen to them like they never thought possible.”
Trump refused to confirm if the U.S. would launch a preemptive strike, however, stating, “We don’t talk about that.”
Although Pence never spoke during their joint press appearance, the duo did sit down for lunch together at the club earlier Thursday — just days after the vice president brushed off reports that he’s gearing up for his own presidential run in 2020 as “laughable and absurd.”
The former Indiana governor also tweeted a photo of his Bedminster arrival Thursday, not long after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump and Pence “meet regularly” and their lunch is “not out of the ordinary.”