Trump threatens NBC broadcast license after report he wanted increase in U.S. nukes

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

President Trump says an NBC News report that he said he wanted a tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal is “pure fiction, made up to demean” him.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!”

In a follow-up tweet, Trump wondered aloud whether the Federal Communications Commission should revoke the broadcast licenses for those networks — something President Richard Nixon threatened to do to the Washington Post after it began investigating Watergate.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Bad for country!”

A spokeswoman for NBC News did not immediately return a request from Yahoo News seeking comment; nor did a representative for the FCC.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Trump again refuted the report.

“I never discussed increasing it,” Trump said. “I wanted it in perfect shape. That was just fake news by NBC.

“Right now we have so many nuclear weapons. I want them to be completely in perfect shape,” the president continued. “We won’t need an increase. I want modernization and I want rehabilitation. It’s got to be in top-top shape.”

He added: “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.”

In separate statement, Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “Recent reports that the president called for an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal are absolutely false.”

On Tuesday night, the network reported that Trump’s request for a bigger stockpile of nuclear weapons came during a “tense” July 20 meeting with high-ranking national security officials, citing three people who were in the room.

“According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised,” the NBC report 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.”

Soon after the meeting concluded, officials who remained behind heard Tillerson call Trump a “moron” — a comment that was first reported by NBC last week.

According to NBC, Tillerson considered resigning after Trump’s rambling, highly politicized speech to a gathering of Boy Scouts on July 24, and Vice President Mike Pence had to talk him out of it.

Tillerson makes a statement affirming his commitment to the Trump agenda in Washington last week. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The report prompted Tillerson to abruptly call a hastily arranged press conference, during which he refuted the story and reaffirmed his commitment to the Trump agenda.

“The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state, because I have never considered leaving this post,” Tillerson said.

Trump subsequently called the NBC report “fake news” on Twitter and demanded the network apologize.

In a Forbes magazine cover story that was published online Tuesday, Trump reiterated that the report that his top diplomat called him a “moron” was “fake news” — but qualified the assertion.

“I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests,” Trump said. “And I can tell you who is going to win.”

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