Trump Almost Sent a Tweet That Could Have Signaled War With North Korea

Bob Woodward reveals just how close the president came to a major provocation.

The Straits Times/ZUMA

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Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, is filled with alarming details about chaos in Trump’s White House, but perhaps no incident illustrates the president’s recklessness better than the time he drafted a tweet saying, “We are going to pull out dependents from South Korea…Family members of the 28,000 people there.”

The president drafted the message at the height of his standoff with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he had derided and provoked as “Little Rocket Man.” It immediately raised alarms in the Pentagon, and the administration got a back-channel message from North Korea that it would regard the tweet as a sign that an attack was looming.

“At that moment there was a sense of profound alarm in the Pentagon leadership that, ‘My God, one tweet and we have reliable information that the North Koreans are going to read this as an attack is imminent,'” Woodward told CBS in an interview on Sunday.

Trump’s bizarre back-and-forth with the North Korean leader has cooled of late, but there’s no comfort in knowing that the United States is one tweet away from nuclear war.

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

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