President Trump's political rhetoric on North Korea has differed from before he declared his candidacy to now. (Taylor Turner/The Washington Post)

President Trump warned North Korea on Wednesday morning that “talking is not the answer,” in his first unfiltered public comments since the hostile nation launched yet another missile early Tuesday, this one over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

Trump’s response to North Korea's most provocative missile launch of his presidency came in a tweet, in which the president signaled that he was prepared to take action. “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years,” he wrote. “Talking is not the answer!”

On Tuesday, hours after the launch of the Hwasong-12 — an intermediate-range ballistic missile — the White House did put out an initial statement that was more measured than Trump's latest comments, though it did state that “all options are on the table.”

“The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said Tuesday morning in a statement. “Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”

Trump had previously promised “fire and fury” in response to North Korea missile launches, and his tweet Wednesday seemed to mark a return to his more bellicose rhetoric.


President Trump said Tuesday that “all options are on the table” in terms of a U.S. response to North Korea's launch of a missile over Japan. (Alex Brandon/AP)

The president also used Twitter to express his solidarity with those affected by Hurricane Harvey — a tweet coming in the wake of some criticism of his trip to Texas on Tuesday, in which the president failed to meet with any victims, expressed little empathy, and managed to turn a disaster relief effort into a celebration of himself and his crowds.

“After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!” Trump wrote.

Trump, whose presidency so far has been marred largely by chaos and drama of his own making, now faces two major crises, one at home (Harvey) and one abroad (North Korea). His handling of both offers a major test of whether he can elevate himself into the sober, responsible leader his party so desperately wants him to be.

On Wednesday, Trump heads to Missouri for an event intended to sell his tax reform agenda, yet another stalled legislative initiative the president is anxious to sell. “Will be leaving for Missouri soon for a speech on tax cuts and tax reform,” he wrote on Twitter, shortly before Air Force One was set to depart. “So badly needed!”