Senior aides to President Donald Trump had reason to bury their heads in their hands, after the president ignored advice and personally attacked North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as ‘Rocket Man’ during his speech to the UN General Assembly.
The attack on the leader of the reclusive country known for over-the-top statements in its race to amass a nuclear arsenal stunned the viewing audience and dominated headlines out of the UN.
A photo of White House chief of staff John Kelly appeared to capture the moment, as he buried his head in his hands – although it isn’t known for sure at what precise moment he did so during the president’s speech or why.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, reacts as he and first lady Melania Trump listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. A new report says senior aides urged Trump not to insult North Korea’s Kim Jong-un
North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un called President Donald Trump ‘deranged’ and said that he will ‘pay dearly’ for his recent threats, Pyongyang’s official state-run media reported on Thursday. Aides to President Trump urged him not to insult ‘Rocket Man’ during his UN speech
Aides including national security advisor H.R. McMaster had argued for months against getting personal with Kim, the LA Times reported. But the president felt he needed to take a hard-line stance.
The report didn’t mention Kelly specifically.
Trump called Kim ‘Rocket Man on a suicide mission’ – picking up on a line he had debuted on Twitter. Speaking before diplomats from 193 nations, Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea.
Kim hit back with harsh rhetoric of his own on Thursday, saying: ‘I will surely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.’
‘His remarks which described the US option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that is one that I have to follow to the last,’ Kim continued.
America first: Trump took his nationalist message to the United Nations in New York and tore into North Korea
‘The mentally deranged behavior of the US president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking think about discretion and composure,’ Kim said.
The foreign minister of North Korea threatened to detonate a powerful hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.
The Times cited a detailed CIA psychological profile of Kim that concluded he has a huge ego and responds harshly to insults and slights.
Kim, who took power in 2011, is believed to have had his own uncle executed over a coup plot and and his half brother executed in an airport. The uncle was killed in 2013 and accused of being a traitor.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, reacts as he and first lady Melania Trump listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017
Tough message: ‘As president of the United States I will always put America first,’ Trump told the United Nations
Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley defended President Trump’s speech in front of the UN’s General Assembly yesterday, saying his new nickname for Kim Jong Un ‘worked’
His half brother, Kim Jong Nam, died after two women approached him at the Kuala Lampur airport and smeared VX nerve agent on his face, in a hit captured on video, as Fox News recounted.
After the speech, Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley defended the insult as having ‘worked’ because another national leader brought it up.
‘Well, I’ll tell you George, it worked,’ Haley told Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos.
‘I was talking to a president of an African country yesterday and he actually cited Rocket Man back to me, so I will tell you, this is a way of getting people to talk about him.’
One concern is that with the personal animosity running strong, it makes it difficult for anyone in the North Korean regime to seek dialogue, out of concern they could get punished or killed for having crossed their leader.