James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration, is well-known for his belief that President Donald Trump is dangerous to national and world security. Now, he’s sounding the alarm on the president’s increasingly hostile rhetoric towards North Korea and their leader, Kim Jong-un.
In an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto, who stood in for host Jake Tapper on Monday’s episode of The Lead, Clapper said North Korean leadership “absolutely” takes Trump’s threats to rain “fire and fury” and “destroy” their country “at face value.”
“I think in their mind, they can easily construe what he’s been saying as a declaration or at least a threat of war,” Clapper told Sciutto.
Trump’s “bellicose rhetoric,” like that which was on display at his United Nations speech where he threatened to destroy the country, Clapper continued, have likely also heightened the country’s “paranoia.”
“Words like that only heighten the paranoia and cause, I think, the regime there to counter with more provocative acts,” he said. “So I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they have another missile test or something else just to reaffirm their own safety and security and sovereignty.”
Watch Clapper describe the ways in which Trump may already have declared war against North Korea below.