Donald Trump is under fire for continuing to play a round of golf and not speaking out to assure terrified residents after a message sent in error had Hawaiians panicking that a missile was headed their way.
Early on Saturday morning, residents in Hawaii were sent an automated emergency message on television and cell phones warning of an imminent inbound ballistic missile. For residents already on edge about heightening tensions with North Korea — which has missiles capable of reaching Hawaii — it caused panic.
“Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill,” the alert warned them.
While it took more than half an hour for officials to clarify that the message had been sent in error, there were no assurances from Trump to residents who were in panic that they were under attack.
That has many up in arms. As The Hill noted, many blasted Trump for failing to act in what appeared to be a moment of major crisis, which could have resulted in the death of thousands of Americans. Videos also showed Hawaii residents terrified over a potential attack, with some even lowering children into storm drains to keep them safe from what they believed was an imminent attack.
Patrick Garfield, the former strategic communications director at the Pentagon under Barack Obama, took to social media to criticize Trump for his failure, writing, “thank God the President was playing golf” as residents panicked.
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard did take measures to assure her fellow residents, tweeting that there was “no incoming missile to Hawaii” and noting that the message had been an error. She also criticized Donald Trump for caring more about finishing his round of golf than addressing the crisis.
“Donald Trump is taking too long,” she told CNN (via the Washington Examiner). “He’s not taking this threat seriously. There’s no time to waste.”
Gabbard also had some criticism for Donald Trump for raising tensions with North Korea. Gabbard and others have hit at Trump for purposely provoking dictator Kim Jong Un with derogatory tweets and threats of attacks.
Here's what the Hawaii missile alert looked like on people's phoneshttps://t.co/xV1zdp9hvZ— TIME (@TIME) January 13, 2018
“We’ve got to get rid of this threat from North Korea. We’ve got to achieve peace, not play politics. Because this is literally life and death that is at stake, for the people of Hawaii and the people of this country,” Gabbard added later in an interview on MSNBC.
Donald Trump still had not addressed the missile scare hours after it happened, with this Twitter page silent since an attack on Democrats from Friday.