Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said Friday that President Donald Trump acts far worse than North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as the tensions continue to rise between the two countries.
Ellison, a progressive liberal and the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), made the remark during a question-and-answer session at the NetrootsNation conference. Speaking of the escalating animosity between the U.S. and the rogue nation building its nuclear arsenal, Ellison said the North Korea situation is "a serious thing" that Trump is ill-equipped to handle because he is not "a responsible leader."
"North Korea is a serious thing. You have [Trump] making bellicose threats against somebody else who has very little to lose over there," Ellison said. "Kim Jong-un, the world always thought he was not a responsible leader. Well he is acting more responsibly than this guy is."
Over the past few days, Trump's rhetoric retaliating against Jong-un's nuclear ambitions has become increasingly more stern and chilling in nature. On Tuesday, the president declared that further aggression from Jong-un and his nuclear missile program would "be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen." On Friday, Trump tweeted, "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!"
Although Jong-un and North Korea pose an alarming threat to both U.S. national security interests and global security interests, Ellison appeared to be more willing to bash his own president than criticize the crazed North Korean dictator and his oppressive leadership.
"And but I'm telling you is that once you start seeing missile launches, you're going to see the time for cranking up the antiwar machine is right now," Ellison added, insisting that Trump wasn't up to the task. "So, if you don't want to get caught deer in the headlights, start calling for diplomacy in North Korea immediately."
The DNC deputy chair faced immediate backlash for his comments dubbing Jong-un to be a more responsible leader than Trump, and he backtracked immediately in a follow-up interview with The Washington Post. Instead of comparing Trump unfavorably to Jong-un, Ellison settled on returning to his familiar pattern of criticizing Trump without comparing him to other world leaders.
"That was one of those I wish I'd not said," Ellison said. "It's tailor-made for somebody to misuse. I'd say, [Trump's] being incredibly irresponsible, and he's putting us in a situation where you could have an accidental launch."
Michael Ahrens, the rapid response director for the Republican National Committee (RNC), said Friday in an email that "this is absolutely insane, even for the DNC's Keith Ellison."
"Republicans and Democrats alike should be focused on supporting the administration's efforts to minimize the threat this madman with nuclear weapons poses to the entire world," Ahrens said of Jong-un. "Instead, Democrat Party leader Rep. Keith Ellison is heaping praise on a murderous dictator to the detriment of our president, the country, and our national security."
"With radical beliefs like these, Democrats need to decide whether Keith Ellison deserves to speak for their party going forward," Ahrens added.
(photo credit, homepage and article images: Lorie Shaull)