President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and referred to the rogue nation’s leader as “rocket man” in a speech before the U.N. Generally Assembly on Tuesday morning, causing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to literally facepalm.
Trump’s Tuesday remarks came in stark contrast to the mild address he delivered on Monday as he told world leaders the United States was ready to confront threats from nations like North Korea and Iran.
“The United States has great strength patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we'll have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," Trump said, as the room erupted into startled murmurs, Reuters reported. “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
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If the U.S. "is forced to defend itself for its allies, we'll have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," Pres. Trump says pic.twitter.com/00PUupXKBQ— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 19, 2017
“The United States is ready, willing, and able,” he continued. “But hopefully, this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom crossed her arms, later telling the BBC “it was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.”
But Wallstrom wasn’t the only one with a less-than-pleased reaction. Trump’s chief of staff, retired Gen. Kelly, put his face in his hand as he listened to Trump threaten North Korea, mock its president Kim Jong Un and reveal the U.S. will be withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, calling the agreement reached under former President Barack Obama “an embarrassment.”
North Korea’s ambassador didn’t bother to stick around to hear Trump’s speech. He reportedly left his seat just prior to Trump’s arrival.
This isn’t the first time Trump’s words have provoked a visceral reaction from Kelly — the retired general hung his head during a press conference following the deadly Charlottesville protests in which Trump doubled down on his claim that protesters were just as “bad” as neo-Nazi demonstrators and that both sides included “very fine people.”
Trump’s speech earned him at least one fan in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said he had not heard “a more courageous speech” in 30 years at the U.N.
Netanyahu says he has not heard a more courageous speech than Trump's speech in his 30 years of experience with the United Nations.— Negar (@NegarMortazavi) September 19, 2017
Twitter, however, was feeling the facepalm on Tuesday
“I think it's a really common reaction for most Americans lol,” Twitter user @StarinaJohnson said.
I think it's a really common reaction for most Americans lol— Starina Johnson (@StarinaJohnson) September 19, 2017
We, Kellys, facepalm often.— Stephen P Kelly (@ShaneLongshadow) September 19, 2017
It's a Kelly Trait.
It reflects the gesture I made when I heard the speech. We, Navarros, facepalm often when Trump speaks, particularly when WWlll beckons.— Barbara Navarro ❄️ (@BarbaraNavarro) September 19, 2017
I think most are doing this. ??? pic.twitter.com/geGWwvrGJH— lulu (@silversageLulu) September 19, 2017