President Donald Trump attacked NBC News on Wednesday, dismissing as ‘‘pure fiction’’ an explosive report that he had sought a massive increase in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
On Twitter, Trump also raised the possibility that he would support stripping the broadcast licenses of news networks that report what he believes to be inaccurate information. The tweets came after NBC News reported that Trump purportedly told senior national security advisers during a meeting last summer that he favored what amounted to nearly a tenfold increase in nuclear weapons.
Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a "tenfold" increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
Trump has previously challenged NBC’s reporting on the meeting, including a revelation that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the president as a ‘‘moron’’ after the meeting and considered resigning from the Cabinet. Tillerson said during a news conference that he never thought of quitting, but he did not confirm or deny making the remark about the president when directly asked about it by a reporter. The State Department’s spokeswoman subsequently denied that Tillerson had made that comment.
NBC reported that Trump’s reaction over the nuclear stockpile came after senior advisers showed him information charting its steady decline in numbers since the 1960s during the meeting at the Pentagon in July.
The report comes as Trump is preparing for an 11-day trip to Asia, where he will seek to bolster international support to pressure North Korea to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons testing. During a speech at the United Nations last month, Trump said the United States was prepared to ‘‘totally destroy’’ the North if necessary and he derisively referred to dictator Kim Jong Un as the ‘‘rocket man.’’
Tillerson said during a visit to Beijing two weeks ago that the administration was ‘‘probing’’ for channels of direct communication with Pyongyang to ratchet down tensions, but Trump quickly undercut the nation’s top diplomat, saying on Twitter that it was a waste of time.
...Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2017
Trump is set to visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines in his trip early next month.