Posts Tagged ‘John Kelly’

What Bob Corker Sees in Trump

October 13, 2017

His concerns are widely shared. The senator deserves credit for going on the record with them.

Sen. Bob Corker in the Capitol, June 20.
Sen. Bob Corker in the Capitol, June 20. PHOTO: TOM WILLIAMS/CQ ROLL CALL

In early March I met with a dozen Republican U.S. senators for coffee as part of a series in which they invite writers, columnists and historians to share what’s on their mind. The consuming topic was the new president. I wrote some notes on the train down, seized by what I felt was the central challenge Republicans on Capitol Hill were facing. The meeting was off the record, but I think I can share what I said. I said the terrible irony of the 2016 campaign was that Donald Trump was the only one of the 17 GOP primary candidates who could have gone on to win the presidency. Only he had the uniqueness, the outside-the-box-ness to win. At the same time Mr. Trump was probably the only one of the 17 who would not be able to govern, for reasons of temperament, political inexperience and essential nature. It just wouldn’t work. The challenge for Republicans was to make legislative progress within that context.

It was my impression the senators were not fully receptive to my thought. Everyone was polite but things were subdued, and I wondered later if I’d gone too far, been too blunt, or was simply wrong. Maybe they knew things I didn’t. Since then I have spoken to a few who made it clear they saw things as I did, or had come to see them that way.

I jump now to the recent story involving Sen. Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. In August he said publicly that Mr. Trump had not yet demonstrated the “stability” and “competence” to be successful as president. Last weekend Mr. Trump, in a series of tweets, mocked the senator, calling him gutless and “Liddle Bob Corker.” Mr. Corker tweeted in response: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

After that he turned serious, in an interview with Jonathan Martin of the New York Times.

Mr. Martin asked if Mr. Corker was trying to “sound some kind of alarm” about the president. Mr. Corker said “the president concerns me.” He likes him, it isn’t personal, but “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House it’s a situation of trying to contain him.” He said there are “some very good people” around the president, “and they have been able to push back against his worst instincts. . . . But the volatility is, to anyone who has been around, is to a degree alarming.” In particular, he observed: “The tweets, especially as it relates to foreign policy issues, I know have been very damaging to us.”

Mr. Martin asked if Mr. Corker has Senate colleagues who feel the same way. “Oh yeah. Are you kidding me? Oh yeah.”

Mr. Martin asked why they did not speak out. Mr. Corker didn’t know: “Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here. There will be some—if you write that, I’m sure there will be some that say, ‘No, no, no I don’t believe that,’ but of course they understand the volatility that we are dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes from people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Among them are Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chief of Staff John Kelly : “As long as there’s people like that around him who are able to talk him down, you know, when he gets spun up, you know, calm him down and continue to work with him before a decision is made. I think we’ll be fine.” He said of the president: “Sometimes I feel like he’s on a reality show of some kind, you know, when he’s talking about these big foreign policy issues. And, you know, he doesn’t realize that, you know, that we could be heading towards World War III with the kinds of comments that he’s making.”

This is all pretty striking from a sitting senator, even one not running for re-election.

At roughly the same time, some sharply critical pieces on the president were coming from the nation’s newspapers. The Los Angeles Times had a story on Mr. Trump’s reaction to Mr. Kelly’s efforts at imposing order on the White House: “The president by many accounts has bristled at the restrictions.” The article quotes allies of the president describing him as “increasingly unwilling to be managed, even just a little.” A person close to the White House claimed Messrs. Kelly and Trump had recently engaged in “shouting matches.” In the Washington Post, Anne Gearan described the president as “livid” this summer when discussing options for the Iran nuclear deal with advisers. He was “incensed” by the arguments of Mr. Tillerson and others.

Also in the Post, Michael Kranish interviewed Thomas Barrack Jr. , a billionaire real-estate developer and one of the president’s most loyal longtime friends. Mr. Barrack delicately praised the president as “shrewd” but said he was “shocked” and “stunned” by things the president has said in public and tweeted. “In my opinion, he’s better than this.”

Thursday, Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman said he’d spoken to a half-dozen prominent Republicans and Trump associates, who all describe “a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.” Mr. Sherman reported two senior Republican officials said Mr. Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty, “to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision.” An adviser said of Trump, “He’s lost a step.” Two sources told Mr. Sherman that several months ago, former chief strategist Steve Bannon warned the president the great risk to his presidency isn’t impeachment but the 25th Amendment, under which the cabinet can vote to remove a president temporarily for being “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

There are a few things to say about all this. First, when a theme like this keeps coming up, something’s going on. A lot of people appear to be questioning in a new way, or at least talking about, the president’s judgment, maturity and emotional solidity. We’ll be hearing more about this subject, not less, as time goes by.

Mr. Corker deserves credit for going public with his reservations and warnings. The U.S. is in a challenging international environment; it’s not unfair or unjust to ask if the president is up to it and able to lead through it.

But we are a nation divided on the subject of Donald Trump, as on many others, and so this is a time to be extremely careful. Unnamed sources can—and will—say anything. If you work in the White House or the administration and see what Mr. Corker sees, and what unnamed sources say they see, this is the time to speak on the record, and take the credit or the blows.

What a delicate time this is. Half the country does not see what the journalists, establishment figures and elites of Washington see. But they do see it, and they believe they’re seeing clearly. It’s a little scary. More light is needed.

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-bob-corker-sees-in-trump-1507847033
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Trump Risks Inciting World War III — Republican Senator says

October 9, 2017

By 

The New York Times

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, last week in Washington. Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

Mr. Corker’s comments capped a remarkable day of sulfurous insults between the president and the Tennessee senator — a powerful, if lame-duck, lawmaker, whose support will be critical to the president on tax reform and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.

It began on Sunday morning when Mr. Trump, posting on Twitter, accused Mr. Corker of deciding not to run for re-election because he “didn’t have the guts.” Mr. Corker shot back in his own tweet: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

The senator, Mr. Trump said, had “begged” for his endorsement. “I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement),” the president wrote. He also said that Mr. Corker had asked to be secretary of state. “I said ‘NO THANKS,’” he wrote.

Mr. Corker flatly disputed that account, saying Mr. Trump had urged him to run again, and promised to endorse him if he did. But the exchange laid bare a deeper rift: The senator views Mr. Trump as given to irresponsible outbursts — a political novice who has failed to make the transition from show business.

Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.

The deeply personal back-and-forth will almost certainly rupture what had been a friendship with a fellow real estate developer turned elected official, one of the few genuine relationships Mr. Trump had developed on Capitol Hill. Still, even as he leveled his stinging accusations, Mr. Corker repeatedly said on Sunday that he liked Mr. Trump, until now an occasional golf partner, and wished him “no harm.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Corker’s remarks.

Mr. Trump’s feud with Mr. Corker is particularly perilous given that the president has little margin for error as he tries to pass a landmark overhaul of the tax code — his best, and perhaps last, hope of producing a major legislative achievement this year.

If Senate Democrats end up unified in opposition to the promised tax bill, Mr. Trump could lose the support of only two of the Senate’s 52 Republicans to pass it. That is the same challenging math that Mr. Trump and Senate Republican leaders faced in their failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Corker could also play a key role if Mr. Trump follows through on his threat to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal, kicking to Congress the issue of whether to restore sanctions on Tehran and effectively scuttle the pact.

Republicans could hold off on sanctions but use the threat of them to force Iran back to the negotiating table — a strategy being advocated by Senator Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican. But that approach could leave the United States isolated, and it will be up to Mr. Corker to balance opposition to the deal with the wishes of those, including some of Mr. Trump’s own aides, who want to change the accord but not blow it up.

Beyond the Iran deal, Mr. Corker’s committee holds confirmation hearings on Mr. Trump’s ambassadorial appointments. If the president were to oust Rex W. Tillerson as secretary of state, as some expect, Mr. Corker would lead the hearings on Mr. Trump’s nominee for the post.

In a 25-minute conversation, Mr. Corker, speaking carefully and purposefully, seemed to almost find cathartic satisfaction by portraying Mr. Trump in terms that most senior Republicans use only in private.

The senator, who is close to Mr. Tillerson, invoked comments that the president made on Twitter last weekend in which he appeared to undercut Mr. Tillerson’s negotiations with North Korea.

“A lot of people think that there is some kind of ‘good cop, bad cop’ act underway, but that’s just not true,” Mr. Corker said.

Without offering specifics, he said Mr. Trump had repeatedly undermined diplomacy with his Twitter fingers. “I know he has hurt, in several instances, he’s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out,” Mr. Corker said.

All but inviting his colleagues to join him in speaking out about the president, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

As for the tweets that set off the feud on Sunday morning, Mr. Corker expressed a measure of powerlessness.

“I don’t know why the president tweets out things that are not true,” he said. “You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does.”

The senator recalled four conversations this year, a mix of in-person meetings and phone calls, in which he said the president had encouraged him to run for re-election. Mr. Trump, he said, repeatedly indicated he wanted to come to Tennessee for an early rally on Mr. Corker’s behalf and even telephoned him last Monday to try to get him to reconsider his decision to retire.

“When I told him that that just wasn’t in the cards, he said, ‘You know, if you run, I’ll endorse you.’ I said, ‘Mr. President, it’s just not in the cards; I’ve already made a decision.’ So then we began talking about other candidates that were running.”

One of the most prominent establishment-aligned Republicans to develop a relationship with Mr. Trump, the senator said he did not regret standing with him during the campaign last year.

“I would compliment him on things that he did well, and I’d criticize things that were inappropriate,” he said. “So it’s been really the same all the way through.”

A former mayor of Chattanooga who became wealthy in construction, Mr. Corker, 65, has carved out a reputation over two terms in the Senate as a reliable, but not overly partisan, Republican.

While he opposed President Barack Obama’s divisive nuclear deal with Iran, he did not prevent it from coming to a vote on the Senate floor, which exposed him to fierce fire from conservatives, who blamed him for its passage.

Mr. Trump picked up on that theme hours after his initial tweets, writingthat “Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal, & that’s about it. We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!”

Mr. Corker was briefly a candidate to be Mr. Trump’s running mate in 2016, but he withdrew his name from consideration and later expressed ambivalence about Mr. Trump’s campaign, in part because he said he found it frustrating to discuss foreign policy with him.

To some extent, the rift between the two men had been building for months, as Mr. Corker repeatedly pointed out on Sunday to argue that his criticism was not merely that of a man liberated from facing the voters again.

After a report last week that Mr. Tillerson had once referred to Mr. Trump as a “moron,” Mr. Corker told reporters that Mr. Tillerson was one of three officials helping to “separate our country from chaos.” Those remarks were repeated on “Fox News Sunday,” which may have prompted Mr. Trump’s outburst.

In August, after Mr. Trump’s equivocal response to the deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Va., Mr. Corker told reporters that the president “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

He said on Sunday that he had made all those comments deliberately, aiming them at “an audience of one, plus those people who are closely working around with him, what I would call the good guys.” He was referring to Mr. Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly.

“As long as there are people like that around him who are able to talk him down when he gets spun up, you know, calm him down and continue to work with him before a decision gets made, I think we’ll be fine,” he said.

658COMMENTS

Mr. Corker would not directly answer when asked whether he thought Mr. Trump was fit for the presidency. But he did say that the commander in chief was not fully aware of the power of his office.

“I don’t think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things that he does, the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he’s addressing,” he said. “And so, yeah, it’s concerning to me.”

Related:

Corker hits back after Trump’s critical tweets — “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.”

October 8, 2017

Report: Trump administration officials urged furious Tillerson not to quit (Tillerson later tried to “clarify”)

October 4, 2017

BY JULIA MANCHESTER – 

The Hill

Image may contain: 2 people, suit and closeup

Key Trump administration officials urged Secretary of State Rex Tillersonnot to resign this summer amid increased tensions with President Trump, according to NBC News.

Vice President Mike Pence, along with Trump’s then-Homeland Security Chief John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis worked to reassure Tillerson, sources told the network.

Pence reportedly asked Tillerson to remain at least until the end of the year.

Tensions reportedly came to a head in late July after Trump delivered a highly controversial speech to the Boy Scouts of America, which was once led by Tillerson.

The secretary of State also referred to the president as a “moron” a few days earlier during a meeting with key Cabinet officials, according to NBC.

State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond disputed the report, telling the network that Tillerson never called Trump a “moron,” and never considered quitting this summer.

This would not be the first time Trump and Tillerson appeared to have clashed.

When asked to comment about Trump’s remarks on the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va., in August, the secretary of State told Fox News’s Chris Wallace that the president “speaks for himself.”

Trump in a series of tweets on Sunday also appeared to jab at Tillerson for looking to engage in direct talks with his North Korean counterparts.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/353779-report-trump-administration-officials-urged-furious-tillerson-not-to

 

Trump, in Puerto Rico, Compares Death Toll to Katrina’s and Says Residents Should Be ‘Proud’

October 3, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday told officials in Puerto Rico that they should be proud that only 16 people died in Hurricane Maria, compared with the “thousands” killed in “a real catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina.”

“Sixteen versus in the thousands,” Mr. Trump said during his first visit to the island after the storm, after asking one of the officials what the death count was. “You can be very proud of your people and all of our people working together.”

Hurricane Katrina claimed 1,833 lives. Officials in the Trump administration have often compared the relief efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico to the George W. Bush administration’s response to Katrina in 2005.

But the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, complained that the response in Puerto Rico fell short of that in Texas or Florida.

In Puerto Rico, Mr. Trump’s schedule will limit his exposure to the public. He will be briefed by local officials in a hangar at the Luis Muniz Air National Guard Base, then meet with storm victims at an undisclosed location, before heading to a Navy amphibious assault ship for meetings with the governors of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

The White House asked the governor of the Virgin Islands, Kenneth E. Mapp, to fly to Puerto Rico because of the logistical complications of having the president and his entourage travel to those islands, parts of which have been severely damaged.

The president has gotten more comfortable with these visits, after traveling to Texas after Hurricane Harvey and Florida after Hurricane Irma. On Tuesday, he wore his now-familiar uniform: a blue windbreaker with the presidential seal and white baseball cap, emblazoned with the letters USA.

Melania Trump, the first lady, accompanied the president, as she has on previous visits to storm-ravaged areas. She wore a navy blue sweater and pants, and stiletto heels, as she left the White House. But, as on earlier trips, she changed while en route into more practical boots and her own baseball cap.

Since the weekend, Mr. Trump has sharply scaled back his Twitter posts about the hurricanes or other potentially fraught issues. But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he continued to emphasize the government’s performance rather than the plight of the victims.

“In Texas and in Florida, we get an A+,” he said. “And I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico.”

“The first responders, the military, FEMA — they have done an incredible job in Puerto Rico,” Mr. Trump continued. “And whether it’s her or anybody else,” he said, referring to Mayor Cruz, “they’re all starting to say it.”

Related:

Trump Says Puerto Rico Has Thrown the Budget ‘Out of Whack’

October 3, 2017

Bloomberg

By Justin Sink, Jordyn Holman, and Jennifer Epstein

 
  • The president is reviewing storm damage and recovery efforts
  • San Juan mayor tells president ‘it’s not about politics’
Fullscreen
Trump Says Puerto Rico Threw Budget ‘Out of Whack’

Trump: Puerto Rico Throwing Budget ‘Out of Whack’

President Donald Trump arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday and began his visit with a briefing on Hurricane Maria’s damage in the company of the San Juan mayor he insulted on Twitter.

President Trump shakes hands with Mayor Cruz.

Photographer: Evan Vucci/AP Photo

“It’s a beautiful place,” Trump said. “Every once in a while you get hit. And you really got hit. No question about it.”

He shook hands with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who told him, “it’s not about politics.” After she criticized Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke over the weekend for calling the federal response to Puerto Rico a “good news story,” Trump maligned “politically motivated ingrates” in the territory on Twitter.

Budget Concerns

At a briefing with local officials in an airport hangar, he complained about the expense of the federal response to the storm.

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack — because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico and that’s fine, we’ve saved a lot of lives,” Trump said.

He also suggested that with only 16 deaths officially attributed to the storm so far, the federal response appeared superior to George W. Bush’s handling of Katrina in 2005.

“When you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this,” Trump said. “And what is your death count right now?”

F-35 Tangent

Trump invited military officials seated at the briefing to take turns discussing their role in the response, and after an Air Force representative spoke, the president went on a tangent about the F-35 fighter plane.

“Amazing job. So amazing that we’re ordering hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new airplanes for the Air Force, especially the F-35,” Trump said, asking the representative, “do you like the F-35?”

“It’s a game-changing, technological, awesome airplane,” the unidentified representative said.

“I said, ‘how does it do it in fights and how do they do in fights with the F-35?”’ Trump continued, apparently referring to a previous discussion he’s had about the plane, “He said, ’we do very well, you can’t see it, you literally can’t see it.’ So it’s hard to fight a plane you can’t see, right?”

About two minutes later, Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, approached him and whispered inaudibly in his ear.

Image result for trump in Puerto Rico, photos

President Donald Trump addresses White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, before a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in a hangar at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Oct. 3, 2017. Reuters photo

Testing Trump

The natural disaster has exposed Trump’s inexperience at governing and raised questions about his ability to handle a major crisis.

Trump’s visit offers a chance to show his commitment to rebuilding an island that remains almost completely without power and short on food, water, medicine and other supplies nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria. The trip, along with one on Wednesday to Las Vegas after a mass shooting there, poses a test of his capacity to fulfill the president’s traditional role of uniting the country in moments of tragedy.

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, and Kenneth Mapp, the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were badly damaged by Hurricane Irma, will also meet with Trump during his visit.

Cruz said in a statement Tuesday that she had accepted the White House’s invitation to attend the briefing, at a National Guard base on Puerto Rico, and would stress to the president that “this is about saving lives, not about politics; this is also about giving the people of Puerto Rico the respect we deserve; and recognizing the moral imperative to do both.”

Stark Contrast

As Trump left Washington for the trip, he was unabashed in boasting about the federal response, describing the effort as “incredible” and comparing it favorably with aid after hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

“In Texas and Florida we got an A-plus, and I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it’s actually a much tougher situation,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “Now the roads are clear, the communications are starting to come back.”

On the ground in Puerto Rico, 93 percent of homes still lacked electricity as of Tuesday and less than a quarter of the population had mobile phone service. The president waited eight days to waive restrictions under the Jones Act that limit which ships can deliver relief supplies, and he also was criticized for tweeting more about football players kneeling during the national anthem in the days after the storm than about the crisis on Puerto Rico.

The bankrupt territory’s recovery stands to be long and expensive, with serious implications not just for Puerto Rico’s residents but also its bondholders, U.S. taxpayers and perhaps even Trump’s political prospects. Puerto Rico’s $74 billion of debt cripples its ability to raise money on its own.

One potential outcome, should rebuilding bog down, is that some of the island’s 3.4 million residents, who are American citizens, could relocate en masse to Florida and other mainland states. Even before the storm, Puerto Rico’s fiscal plan released in March projected that the island’s population would decline by 0.2 percent a year during the next decade.

“You’re not going to get hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans moving to the states — you’re going to get millions,” Rossello said Tuesday at a news conference. “You’re going to get millions, creating a devastating demographic shift for us here in Puerto Rico, a brain drain.”

Oxfam, which rarely responds to disasters in the U.S. and other wealthy countries, said Monday that it would start work in Puerto Rico amid “the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted,” said Oxfam America’s president Abby Maxman. “The US has more than enough resources to mobilize an emergency response“ but “has failed to do so in a swift and robust manner.”

— With assistance by Toluse Olorunnipa, Nathan Crooks, Jonathan Levin, Kathleen Hunter, and William Selway

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-03/trump-visits-puerto-rico-and-shakes-hands-with-mayor-he-insulted

Aides warned Trump not to attack North Korea’s leader personally before his fiery U.N. address

September 23, 2017

By Brian Bennett

Senior aides to President Trump repeatedly warned him not to deliver a personal attack on North Korea’s leader at the United Nations this week, saying insulting the young despot in such a prominent venue could irreparably escalate tensions and shut off any chance for negotiations to defuse the nuclear crisis.

Trump’s derisive description of Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” on “a suicide mission” and his threat to “totally destroy” North Korea were not in a speech draft that several senior officials reviewed and vetted Monday, the day before Trump gave his first address to the U.N. General Assembly, two U.S. officials said.

Some of Trump’s top aides, including national security advisor H.R. McMaster, had argued for months against making the attacks on North Korea’s leader personal, warning it could backfire.

But Trump, who relishes belittling his rivals and enemies with crude nicknames, felt compelled to make a dramatic splash in the global forum.

Some advisors now worry that the escalating war of words has pushed the impasse with North Korea into a new and dangerous phase that threatens to derail the months-long effort to squeeze Pyongyang’s economy through sanctions to force Kim to the negotiating table.

A detailed CIA psychological profile of Kim, who is in his early 30s and took power in late 2011, assesses that Kim has a massive ego and reacts harshly and sometimes lethally to insults and perceived slights.

It also says that the dynastic leader — Kim is the grandson of the communist country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, and son of its next leader, Kim Jong Il — views himself as inseparable from the North Korean state.

As predicted, Kim took Trump’s jibes personally and especially chafed at the fact that Trump mocked him in front of 200 presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and diplomats at the U.N.

Kim volleyed insults back at Trump in an unprecedented personal statement Thursday, calling Trump “a mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and a “gangster” who had to be tamed “with fire.”

Kim’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, threatened to respond with “the most powerful detonation,” a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Trump lobbed another broadside Friday, tweeting that Kim “is obviously a madman” who starves and kills his own people and “will be tested like never before.”

The clash may undermine Trump’s other efforts on the sidelines of the General Assembly meetings.

He spent much of Thursday meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in an effort to carve out new ways to pressure Kim to freeze or roll back his nuclear program.

On Thursday, Trump announced new U.S. sanctions against other countries, foreign businesses and individuals that do business with North Korea, a move likely to chiefly affect China, Pyongyang’s largest trading partner.

John Park, a specialist on Northeast Asia at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said the tit-for-tat insults have created a “new reality” and probably have shut off any chance of starting talks to curb North Korea’s fast-growing nuclear arms program.

“If the belief centers around sanctions being the last hope to averting war and getting North Korea back to the negotiating table, it’s too late,” Park said.

Since taking office, Kim has pushed the nuclear and missile programs far faster than U.S. experts had expected, sharply accelerating the pace of development and tests. Kim has conducted four of the country’s six nuclear tests.

U.S. officials now believe that North Korea has fully one-third of its economy invested in its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump and his senior aides say Kim has used foreign assistance, including trading subsidies from China, to offset such massive spending. They believe the latest U.S. sanctions, on top of the U.N. sanctions, will help choke off some of that income.

In recent months, Pyongyang has tested its first two intercontinental ballistic missiles, conducted an underground test of what it claimed was a powerful hydrogen bomb, and fired midrange ballistic missiles over northern Japan.

U.S. experts assess that North Korea is six to eight months away from building a small nuclear warhead robust enough to survive the intense heat and vibrations of an intercontinental ballistic missile crossing the Pacific and reaching the continental United States.

Given Kim’s record of putting political rivals and dissenters to death, including members of his own family, his public statement blasting Trump makes it highly unlikely that other North Korean officials would participate in talks about ending the country’s nuclear program, Park said.

“There is no one on the North Korean side who is going to entertain or pursue discussion about a diplomatic off-ramp, because that individual would be contradicting the leader, which is lethal,” Park said.

Trump has returned to rhetoric he’d used during the campaign, when he called Kim a “madman playing around with nukes” and a “total nut job.”

But Trump also praised Kim at the time, saying during a Fox News interview last year that Kim’s “gotta have something going for him, because he kept control, which is amazing for a young person to do.”

The president has been fixated on the threat from Pyongyang since taking office.

Trump “rarely lets me escape the Oval Office without a question about North Korea,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in July at a national security forum in Aspen, Colo. “It is at the front of his mind.”

But Trump also has expressed frustration at the failure of previous administrations to block North Korea’s advances in ballistic missile and nuclear technology despite negotiations, sanctions, export controls, sabotage and other efforts.

President Clinton, and then President George W. Bush, engaged in two major diplomatic initiatives to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons efforts in return for aid. Both initiatives ultimately collapsed. President Obama reportedly tried cyber-sabotage.

Obama warned Trump before he took office that North Korea would be his most pressing international concern, and the new president was alarmed to learn how close Kim was to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to U.S. soil.

Despite all of that, Trump rarely derided Kim by name after he entered the White House.

In May, he said he’d be “honored” to meet Kim under the right circumstances.

In August, after U.S. intelligence analysts became convinced Pyongyang had miniaturized a nuclear warhead, Trump said the country would face “fire and fury” if it made more threats against the United States. But he stopped short of hurling personal insults.

Matthew Kroenig, a political scientist at Georgetown University and expert on nuclear deterrence, said Trump’s threat this week to “totally destroy” North Korea comes out of the U.S. playbook for preventing a nuclear attack.

“The point is to deter a North Korean attack, and the art of deterrence hasn’t changed,” he said in a phone interview Friday. “It is to convince your adversary that the benefit of committing an attack would be outweighed by the costs.”

“That’s what Trump was making clear — it is not in Kim Jong Un’s interest to attack the U.S.,” Kroenig said.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-fg-trump-northkorea-20170922-story.html

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, right, speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, regarding the escalating crisis in North Korea’s nuclear threats. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s Reaction To President Trump’s Threat To Destroy North Korea

September 20, 2017
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 CREDIT: AP

John Kelly, Donald Trump’s chief-of-staff, appeared to go through an “existential crisis” on Tuesday, social media users joked, as he listened to the president’s address to the UN General Assembly.

Mr Trump used his maiden address to the world’s leaders to escalate his standoff with North Korea over its nuclear challenge, threatening to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people and mocking its leader, Kim Jong-un, as a “rocket man.”

A great and important day at the United Nations. Met with leaders of many nations who agree with much (or all) of what I stated in my speech!

It was described by one observer as a “42-minute tweetstorm” and by another as president George W. Bush’s “‘axis of evil’ speech on steroids.”

But it was the reaction of his right hand man, Mr Kelly, that became one of the main talking points on social media.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, reacts as he and first lady Melania Trump listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak at the United Nations General Assembly 
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, reacts as he and first lady Melania Trump listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak at the United Nations General Assembly  CREDIT: AP

 

Seen with his head in his hand in one photograph, and looking down at the floor in another, Twitter users guessed he wasn’t enjoying what he heard.

“John Kelly apparently went through some sort of existential crisis during Trump’s UN speech,” Kyle Feldscher, a reporter, commented.

Others said his facial expressions summed up what everyone was thinking.

The comments echoed the reaction to his facial expressions during Mr Trump’s controversial press conference on the violence at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, in which the president said both sides were to blame.

White House Chief of Staff Kelly checks his watch as he listens to U.S. President Trump deliver his address to the UN
White House Chief of Staff Kelly checks his watch as he listens to U.S. President Trump deliver his address to the UN CREDIT: REUTERS

Mr. Kelly, 67, was brought in at the start of August to bring order to the White House.

Within a month, however, there were reports of tensions, with Mr Trump allegedly lashing out at the chief of staff.

Mr Kelly told colleagues he had never been spoken to in such a way during 35 years in the military, the New York Times reported.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/20/embarrassed-john-kellys-reaction-donald-trumps-un-speech-goes/

Steve Bannon unloads on China ahead of Hong Kong speech, declaring Beijing ‘the biggest problem’ for Trump

September 11, 2017

‘The elites in this country have got us in a situation. We’re not at economic war with China; China is at economic war with us’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 10:36am

Steve Bannon – US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist who left the White House in August – has used a closely watched TV appearance to hammer China ahead of his arrival in Hong Kong to speak on US economic nationalism tomorrow.

Bannon told 60 Minutes on Sunday that the US had to take a tougher stance with China over trade and appropriating US technology.

Beijing, he declared in his first TV interview since leaving the White House, was already at “economic war” with the US and it was time for the US to respond in kind.

“Donald Trump, for 30 years, has singled out China as the biggest single problem we have on the world stage,” he said. ‘The elites in this country have got us in a situation. We’re not at economic war with China; China is at economic war with us.”

Bannon will address an investor forum in Hong Kong tomorrow organised by CLSA, an overseas unit of Citic Securities Co, the biggest state-owned Chinese brokerage. The talk will focus on “American economic nationalism, the populist revolt and Asia,” according to a CLSA spokeswoman.

Donald Trump, for 30 years, has singled out China as the biggest single problem we have on the world stage
STEVE BANNON

“He’s the man of the moment, and we believe our clients are interested in what he has to say,” CLSA said. “He is current and his opinion influences the markets.”

The September 12 talk will focus on “American economic nationalism, the populist revolt and Asia,” according to the CLSA spokeswoman.

Bannon, went to work in Hong Kong on 2005 at a start-up called Internet Gaming Entertainment, based in Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay.

Bannon unloaded against his enemies in the 60 Minutesinterview. It was a long list, as he declared war against the Republican congressional leadership, called on top Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn to resign, and outlined his views on issues ranging from immigration to trade.

He accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan of “trying to nullify the 2016 election.” It was Bannon’s first television interview since returning as executive chairman to Breitbart News, the conservative website he previously led.

He blamed them for failing to repeal and replace former president Barack Obama’s signature health care law and made clear he would use his Breitbart perch to hold Republicans accountable for not helping Trump push through his agenda.

 

“They’re not going to help you unless they’re put on notice,” he told CBS’s Charlie Rose. “They’re going to be held accountable if they do not support the president of the United States. Right now there’s no accountability.”

Stressing absolute loyalty to Trump, Bannon criticised members of the administration who, he said, had leaked to the media their displeasure with the way Trump handled the white-supremacist-fuelled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one dead and more injured.

“You can tell him, ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way.’ But if you’re going to break, then resign. If you’re going to break with him, resign,” he said. “If you find it unacceptable, you should resign.”

He explicitly mentioned Cohn, Trump’s director of the National Economic Council who had criticised Trump’s response in an interview with the Financial Times, and said he “absolutely” thought Cohn should have resigned.

Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August 2016 and emerged as the president’s ideological id, channelling his populist and nationalist impulses. Though he made many enemies within the West Wing, including the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and clashed with John Kelly, Trump’s second chief of staff, Bannon remains close to Trump.

Recalling a particularly low moment in the campaign, when the Access Hollywood tape emerged of Trump bragging about groping women, Bannon dismissed it as “just locker room talk” – but said the moment served as an important “litmus test” for loyalty to Trump.

At the time, Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff, urged the then-candidate to either drop out of the race or face a historic loss. And, Bannon said, Governor Chris Christie, who served as a campaign adviser overseeing Trump’s transition plan, lost a likely spot in the president’s Cabinet because of his response to the video.

“I told him, ‘The plane leaves at 11 in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team,’ ” Bannon said, referring to Christie. “Didn’t make the plane.”

Yet Bannon also seemed to criticise the president’s recent decision to rescind protections for “Dreamers” – those 690,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as young children – while giving Congress six months to devise a legislative solution. The move, he said, could cost Republicans the House in the 2018 election.

“If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March, it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013,” Bannon said. “And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise.”

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

Inside John Kelly’s Effort To Rein In Donald Trump

September 3, 2017

Trump Enjoys John Kelly’s New Order – And Rails Against It

By David Z. Morris

FORTUNE
Sep 02, 2017
 
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stands in the door of Air Force One and thinks things over…. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ALEX BRANDON

In the five weeks since John Kelly became Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, the retired Marine Corps General has ejected unstable staffers, imposed new controls on who can meet with the President, and restricted the news the President consumes. While Trump has expressed appreciation for the new sense of order, he has also, predictably, bridled against it.

Trump’s discontent has at least once led to a harsh outburst directed at Kelly. According to a new report from the New York Times, Kelly later told fellow staffers that he hadn’t been talked to that way in 35 years.

At the same time, President Trump has both publicly and privately praised Kelly and his changes, including telling aides that he now has “time to think.” But Trump – who doesn’t read news on the web, instead relying on TV and printouts of articles passed to him by aides – has also said he misses updates from Breitbart and The Daily Caller, far-right news outlets that Kelly has apparently removed from the mix.

Get CEO DailyFortune’s newsletter for leaders.

When Kelly was appointed, observers predicted that success in the role could breed resentment in Trump. According to the latest Times report, coauthored by Trump monitor nonpareil Maggie Haberman, Kelly has tried to take a light touch with the President, but has not been able to entirely maintain Trump’s enthusiasm for him. And Kelly was always a reluctant staffer, with some speculating that he regarded it as his patriotic duty to take the Chief of Staff role.

That mounting tension has led White House aides to wonder how much longer Kelly will remain in the role, with estimates ranging from one month to one year, despite there being no indication from Kelly himself that he plans to leave. Kelly’s only comment on the matter unearthed by the Times is that his new job is by far the hardest he has ever had.

http://fortune.com/2017/09/02/trump-john-kellys-tension/

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Forceful Chief of Staff Grates on Trump, and the Feeling Is Mutual

WASHINGTON — President Trump was in an especially ornery mood after staff members gently suggested he refrain from injecting politics into day-to-day issues of governing after last month’s raucous rally in Arizona, and he responded by lashing out at the most senior aide in his presence.

It happened to be his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly.

Mr. Kelly, the former Marine general brought in five weeks ago as the successor to Reince Priebus, reacted calmly, but he later told other White House staff members that he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of serving his country. In the future, he said, he would not abide such treatment, according to three people familiar with the exchange.

While Mr. Kelly has quickly brought some order to a disorganized and demoralized staff, he is fully aware of the president’s volcanic resentment about being managed, according to a dozen people close to Mr. Trump, and has treaded gingerly through the minefield of Mr. Trump’s psyche. But the president has still bridled at what he perceives as being told what to do.

Like every other new sheriff in town Mr. Trump has hired to turn things around at the White House or in his presidential campaign, Mr. Kelly has gradually diminished in his appeal to his restless boss. What is different this time is that Mr. Trump, mired in self-destructive controversies and record-low approval ratings, needs Mr. Kelly more than Mr. Kelly needs him. Unlike many of the men and women eager to work for Mr. Trump over the years, the new chief of staff signed on reluctantly, more out of a sense of duty than a need for affirmation, personal enrichment or fame.

“It is inevitable that a guy who will not be contained and does not want to be handled or managed was going to rebel against the latest manager who wanted to control him,” said Roger Stone, the longtime Trump adviser, who believes Mr. Kelly represents a kind of management coup by “the triumvirate” of two powerful retired generals — Mr. Kelly and Jim Mattis, the defense secretary — and one general who is still in the Army, the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster.“Ultimately Donald Trump is his own man, and he’s going to resist all the control and regimented systems Kelly is trying to impose,” Mr. Stone said.

For the seven months of the Trump administration, the favorite parlor game in the West Wing has been guessing how long imperiled aides like Mr. Priebus would hang on before getting fired. But these days it is Mr. Kelly’s state of mind, not Mr. Trump’s, that concerns the beleaguered aides buoyed by the new chief’s imposition of structure and clear lines of authority.

The question now is how long Mr. Kelly will stay, with estimates ranging from a month to a year at the most. White House officials say that Mr. Kelly has given no indication he intends to leave anytime soon. He has thrown himself into long-term planning of the administration’s tax reform push, the president’s Asia trip in November and scheduling for the next several months, they said. Mr. Kelly declined through a White House spokeswoman to comment for this article.

For Mr. Trump, few ingredients matter more in a staff relationship than chemistry, and at times he and Mr. Kelly — whose soldierly demeanor masks a slashing sense of humor — have enjoyed a mostly easy rapport. At commencement ceremonies at the Coast Guard Academy in May, Mr. Kelly elicited a big laugh from the president after Mr. Trump was presented with a ceremonial sword and Mr. Kelly told him that “you can use that on the press.”

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