North Korea’s statement calling Vice President Pence a “political dummy” and threatening the U.S. appeared to be a breaking point for Trump. The president first saw the comments last night and “he took it in stride, he slept on it,” according to the official.
In the morning, Trump met with his national security team, including Pence, chief of staff John Kelly and Pompeo, and made his decision to call off the talks.
The official said it was “hard to miss” the implicit threat of nuclear war in North Korea’s statement, which threatened to “make the U.S. taste an appalling tragedy.”
“The president sought to remind North Korea of the real balance of power here,” the official added.
In the letter, Trump said North Korea was taking a step backward with actions that forced his hand.
“I believe this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world,” Trump wrote in the letter.
But he also offered a warning to Pyongyang in his note, which was alternately bellicose and complimentary.
Trump said the United States nuclear weapons are “so massive and so powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
He then thanked Kim for the release of three prisoners earlier this month that had appeared to signal the talks were on course.
“Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you,” Trump wrote. “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”