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Published: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 @ 4:42 PM
Back at the White House from an extended holiday break at his Florida retreat, President Donald Trump used Twitter on Tuesday to celebrate the work of his administration, take a few shots at the news media, lob some jabs at Democrats over immigration policy, and escalate a nuclear feud with the leader of North Korea, prompting cries of concern from some Democrats in the Congress.
"I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!" Trump said of Kim Jong Un, a day after the North Korean leader had made his own implicit threat to the United States in a New Year's message.
"The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk," Kim said on New Year's Day.
President Trump was having none of it.
A few hours before Mr. Trump's tweet, the White House made clear that U.S. policy on North Korea 'hasn't changed at all.'
"The United States is committed and will still continue to put maximum pressure on North Korea to change and make sure that it denuclearizes the Peninsula," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
In her first briefing of the year for reporters at the White House, Sanders echoed the President's desire for an aggressive legislative agenda in 2018, building on the success of a sweeping package of tax cuts approved in late December.
"I think we've had an extremely successful 2017," Sanders told reporters.
"And we know for certain that a lot of American workers are starting and having a very happy New Year thanks to the wage increases and bonuses they got as a result of the President's tax cut bill," Sanders added.
But while the briefing offered insights on a variety of policy proposals, it was the President's tweets which made most of the news on Tuesday.
Among those tweets, the President promised more jabs at the news media next week:
That followed on the heels of two morning Twitter missives aimed at the New York Times, which Mr. Trump again labeled the "failing New York Times" - though, he did not mention anything about the exclusive interview he had given the paper just last week.
On immigration, the President not only reinforced his 'get tough' message on the border with Mexico, but also again tweaked Democrats over their push to legalize hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant "Dreamers" who are in the United States, avoiding deportation because of the 'DACA' program started under President Obama.
While Democrats have pressed for approval of the "Dream Act" in Congress, GOP leaders have been cool to the idea, as Mr. Trump has said he won't sign off on any deal unless it includes items that he wants on immigration - like an end to so-called 'chain migration,' the end of the 'Diversity Visa lottery' system, and most importantly for the President, money to build his wall along the Mexican border.
Mr. Trump also fired off his first "Crooked Hillary" tweet of the New Year, seemingly calling for the prosecution of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and former FBI Director James Comey.
As for the North Korean tweets, they drew no responses from GOP lawmakers in the Congress, while some Democrats in the Congress expressed horror and concern.
"This guy needs a legislative leash," said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
"Of what possible benefit is goading North Korea over the use of nuclear weapons?" tweeted Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).
But for strong supporters of the President, this was tough talk that was needed - to send a message to the North Korean leader.
"This is why Trump was elected," said Michael Flynn Jr., the son of the President's former National Security Adviser, whose father has plead guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation.