Trump calls for more nuclear weapons, aides say he didn’t mean it, he says he did
Trying to understand what Donald Trump actually stands for is not an easy task.
Trump ignited his latest firestorm on Thursday, when he tweeted that: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The striking-yet-ambiguous comment was immediately interpreted as a sign that the Trump administration was willing to abandon decades of work by presidents of both parties — beginning with Ronald Reagan — to reduce America’s stockpile of nuclear weapons to lower the risk of a catastrophic conflict.
Trump’s aides immediately tried to offer a different — and, if true, far more reasonable — explanation. The president-elect, they said, wasn’t calling for the US to build more nuclear weapons; he was calling for renewed efforts to take better care of the ones the Pentagon already has. Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the tweet was meant to emphasize the need to “improve and modernize our deterrent capabilities.”
But didn’t take long for Trump to contradict his own aides. On Friday morning, Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski said that the president-elect had actually meant what he first appeared to have meant. “Let it be an arms race,” she quoted him as saying to her and fellow host Joe Scarborough. “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
Trump regularly takes two positions on the same issue, often falsely insisting he didn’t say something that he had publicly said or tweeted. That’s worrisome enough when it comes to denying that he’d called climate change a Chinese hoax when he’d literally said that exact thing. But it’s downright terrifying when it comes to nuclear weapons, which have the literal capacity to end human life.