Trump Doubles Down on North Korea ‘Fire and Fury’ Comments, Attacks Against McConnell

Trump on 'fire and fury' comments: 'Maybe it wasn't tough enough'

President Donald Trump doubled down on both his fiery rhetoric against North Korea and criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in a press briefing Thursday afternoon.

"Mr. President, the North Koreans said yesterday that your statement on Tuesday was nonsense, that's the word they used. Do you have any response to that?" a reporter asked.

"Well, I don't think they mean that, and I think it's the first time they've heard it like they heard it," Trump said. "And frankly, the people that were questioning that statement, was it too tough? Maybe it wasn't tough enough."

Trump then remarked that many senators approved of his comments and repeated that his statement "may not be tough enough."

"What could be tougher than fire and fury?" the reporter asked.

"Well, you'll see, you'll see," Trump responded.

Trump was then asked if a preemptive strike on North Korea is an option, to which he replied, "We don't talk about that. I never do. I'm not like the other administration that would say we're going into Mosul in four months. I don't talk about it. We'll see what happens. But I can tell you that what they've been doing and what they've been getting away with is a tragedy. And it can't be allowed."

Trump was later asked about his relationship with McConnell. Initially, he focused on his disappointment with the failure of the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Then the reporter pressed Trump, saying that some conservatives want McConnell to step down. Trump has repeatedly criticized McConnell via Twitter this week, telling him to get to work and get top GOP agenda items passed and to his desk for signing.

"Well, I'll tell you what, if he doesn't get repeal and replace done and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question," Trump said.

Trump assured that "the people of this country should be very comfortable" with the escalating situation with North Korea, and congratulated U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, as well as Russia and China, for new sanctions on North Korea.

Trump also discussed the opioid crisis, calling it a "national emergency."