White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has said that he doesn’t follow Donald Trump’s tweets, hours after the US president taunted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Twitter, calling him “short and fat.”
“Someone, I read the other day, said we all just react to the tweets,” Kelly, who is traveling with Trump in Asia, told a group of reporters after a presidential news conference on Sunday afternoon in Vietnam.
“We don’t. I don’t. I don’t allow the staff to. We know what we’re doing,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Believe it or not, I do not follow the tweets,” Kelly added.
“I find out about them,” he continued. “But for our purposes, my purpose, is we make sure the president is briefed up on what he’s about to do.”
“They are what they are,” he said, adding, “We develop policy in the normal, traditional staff way.”
Kelly’s remarks came after Trump exchanged school yard taunts with the North Korean leader.
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’” Trump tweeted.
“Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” he added.
Trump, 71, posted the tweet on Sunday after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam, part of his 12-day tour of Asia to rally regional nations against Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Last week, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “no-one can predict when the lunatic old man of the White House, lost to sense, will start a nuclear war,” referring to Trump’s war rhetoric against North Korea.
Trump has taken an increasingly hostile stance toward Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests. In a speech to the UN General Assembly in September, the US president threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary.
In return, Kim called Trump a “mentally deranged dotard” and threatened to “tame him with fire.”
He stirred controversy a few months back by deriding the North Korean leader as “rocket man,” a move that experts said was unbecoming of a president.
Kim responded by calling Trump a “dotard” – an archane term for a senile or weak-minded elderly person – and a “gangster fond of playing with fire.”