“Shock and awe” will have a rather different connotation in the new White House. Donald Trump is coming in for a fresh round of criticism, which he will doubtless blithely dismiss, for discussing high-stakes global security issues with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a public place.
Trump allowing them to be documented and publicized to the world via social media.
During a dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday, the president and prime minister received word that North Korea had conducted a test launch of a missile, a provocative move intended to intimidate its neighbors and provoke a response from the international community.
Rather than retreat from public view to discuss this important development, Trump and Abe remained seated at their table on the resort’s terrace, which by many accounts, became an impromptu “situation room” where they planned their response to the North Korean gambit.
One of the dues-paying members of the exclusive resort, Richard DeAgazio, posted several photos on Facebook showing the two leaders as they conferred and made phone calls.
The photos were captioned: “HOLY MOLY! It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan… Wow…. The center of the action!!!”
DeAgazio also posted a picture of himself with the White House aide in charge of carrying the “nuclear football,” the briefcase containing launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
His Facebook account has subsequently been deleted.
According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, the leaders didn’t review any classified documents on the terrace.
However, the fact they apparently discussed some aspects of their joint response in public was enough to attract criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Trump’s erstwhile opponent in the Republican presidential primary, remarked: “Usually, that’s not a place where you do that kind of thing.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed incredulity: “Can’t make it up.”