According to Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Washington correspondent and author Michael Schmidt, there was a time in Donald Trump’s highly-tumultuous presidency when he approached his then-Chief of Staff Gen, John Kelly, and suggested both nuking and preemptively attacking North Korea.
The disturbing revelation comes from a new afterword from Schmidt’s upcoming book, Donald Trump v. the United States, that’s set to hit the shelves next week and features a large biography on the second Trump White House chief of staff. NBC News was able to exclusively obtain and report on this new section of the journalist’s forthcoming tell-all.
Gen. Kelly — who has notably morphed into a loud and vehement critic of the scandal-ridden former president — first served as Donald Trump’s secretary of homeland security. He would then go on to replace Reince Priebus as Trump’s White House chief of staff from July 31, 2017, to January 2, 2019, when he was replaced by Mick Mulvaney who served in an acting capacity in the role.
NBC’s Rebecca Shabad quotes Schmidt’s upcoming book, writing, “Eight days after Kelly arrived at the White House as chief of staff, Trump warned that North Korea would be ‘met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.'”
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“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 in the soon-to-be-released tell-all.
Kelly worked hard to dissuade Donald Trump from the insane and frankly detrimental idea, reportedly telling the then-president, “It’d be tough to not have the finger pointed at us.”
According to Schmidt’s new afterword, Trump regularly made mention and even open suggestions of military moves and attacks against North Korea in the early days of his administration, up until he struck up a rather disturbing rapport with the North Korean dictator.
Schmidt writes that Trump “would turn back to the possibility of war, including at one point raising to Kelly the possibility of launching a preemptive military attack against North Korea.”
NBC’s Shabad offers an unsettling summary of some of the exchanges that took place between Kelly and Trump on the matter:
Kelly warned that Trump would need congressional approval for a pre-emptive strike, which ‘baffled and annoyed’ Trump, according to the afterword.
Schmidt also writes that it was well-known among senior U.S. officials for several decades that North Korea sought to spy on U.S. decision-makers. So White House aides were alarmed ‘that Trump would repeatedly talk on unclassified phones, with friends and confidants outside the government, about how he wanted to use military force against North Korea.'”
The New York Times Washington correspondent goes on to touch on the topic of classified materials, explaining that it was well within the realm of American intelligence assessment” that foreign powers and adversaries, such as North Korea, could absolutely be listening in on Trump’s phone calls, in his capacity as the United States president.
“Kelly would have to remind Trump that he could not share classified information with his friends,” the author added, further confirming just how dangerous Donald Trump truly was to this nation, on a level of national security.