NBC’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell spars with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert over President Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea. From the August 9, 2017 State Department briefing:
MS NAUERT: Okay. Andrea, hi.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Hi. Could I follow up? The Secretary’s call was, though, well after the "fire and furyâ€ language. Senator McCain and others â€“ Republicans and Democrats â€“ have complained that it was, quote, "bombasticâ€ in Senator Feinstein’s view, "not helpfulâ€ said Senator McCain, that no other president â€“ not Eisenhower, not Reagan â€“ no other president that he knew of would have used such language. And the implication from all of the critics is that the President’s language implied the use of nuclear force. Is that the way the Secretary read it? And did the Secretary have any early warning from his earlier phone call that this was going to happen? Or did he only speak to the President in the aftermath of it?
MS NAUERT: He spoke to the President after the fact, after the President made his announcement. As people look at this, and some consider comments to have been alarming, I would have to go back to this: Let’s consider what is alarming. What is alarming: two ICBM tests in less than a month, two nuclear tests that took place last year. As a matter of fact, when there’s an earthquake in China, I get many emails and calls from all of you asking, "Was it another nuclear test?â€ That is how big of a deal this is, what is going on.
QUESTION: But —
MS NAUERT: Let me â€“ let —
QUESTION: Let me just follow up.
MS NAUERT: Let me finish. Okay, please.
MS NAUERT: That it is a big deal what is going on; it is a concern to the world, not just the United States. Those are alarming actions. They are provocative actions on the part of North Korea.
QUESTION: My question is: Given those provocations from North Korea, which has been belligerent in the extreme â€“ granted, stipulated â€“ is it helpful or unhelpful for the President to use the kind of language that we have seen previously coming from Kim Jong-un, not from presidents of the United States?
MS NAUERT: Look.
QUESTION: Is he exacerbating the problem?
MS NAUERT: The President spoke to him, to Kim Jong-un, in a language that Secretary Tillerson has said â€“ and said this morning â€“ in the kind of language that Kim Jong-un will understand. We would like to see results. The pressure campaign â€“ we see that working. The international community is in agreement with the United States and many of our partners and allies on putting additional pressure on North Korea. The Secretary happens to be coming back from the ASEAN conference, where they had tremendous success. It was a good week for diplomacy. I know you all want to obsess over statements and all of that, and try to â€“ want to make a lot of noise out of that, but what is important to keep in mind is that this diplomatic pressure at ASEAN, at the meeting of the 10 Asian nations along with the United States, came to a joint agreement and a joint statement and put out a very strong condemnation of North Korea. We are all singing from the same hymn book.
QUESTION: A lot of us have reported on the success of that effort at the UN and in ensuing days. That doesn’t take away from that question: the lack of a national security interagency process â€“ in this instance with a presidential statement â€“ that has perhaps undercut the previous success.
MS NAUERT: I don’t know that I would agree with you on that. …read more