Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis released a statement on Wednesday calling an NBC News report that President Donald Trump called for a tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal “absolutely false.”
“Recent reports that the President called for an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal are absolutely false,” Mattis said. “This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible.”
Earlier on Wednesday, NBC News reported that President Trump called for a tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon.
“According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joints Chiefs of Staffs and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised,” the story said. “Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.”
During remarks from the Oval Office, Mr. Trump blasted the NBC News story calling it “fake news” and saying such a buildup is “totally unnecessary,” but added that he wants the nuclear arsenal to be in “tip-top shape.”
“General Mattis put out a statement, or is putting out a statement, saying that was fake news, that it was just mentioned that way.”
Trump went on the say it is “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”
“The press should speak more honestly. I’ve seen tremendously dishonest press. It’s not even a question of distortion. Like the question that was just asked before about 10 times the nuclear capability. I know the capability we have, believe me, and it is awesome. It is massive. So when they make up stories like that, that’s just made up, and the generals will tell you that. And then they have sources that don’t exist, they don’t exist, they make up the sources. There are no sources.”