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Trump: 'Let it Be an Arms Race'

Image: Trump: 'Let it Be an Arms Race'

By    |   Friday, 23 Dec 2016 07:15 AM

President-elect Donald Trump took off the gloves Friday when asked for clarification on his Twitter call for expansion of U.S. nuclear capabilities with a short, off-the air declaration: "Let it be an arms race."

"We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all," Trump also told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski when she got on the phone with the president-elect, who had called to speak with newly named Press Secretary Sean Spicer following his interview with the "Morning Joe" program.

Brzezinski reported that Trump had told her the statement when she asked him to comment on a tweet the president-elect made on Thursday that shocked nuclear non-proliferation experts, who said boosting the U.S. arsenal could help fuel already-tense global relations.

In that post,Trump declared:

 

 

He gave no further details about that tweet, and on Friday morning, as news broke of his comments to Brzezinski, Trump did not post further tweets about the issue, but instead took to Twitter to complain that son Eric had been forced to quit soliciting money for his childhood cancer charity.

Trump's comments also were not broadcast live on the show, nor was recording of him making them played, with Brzezinski instead reporting the conversation.

Washington Post columnist and executive editor David Ignatius, on the program's panel commented that often, Trump will make stunning comments to "unbalance things" or to "disrupt" a conversation by saying the "unsayable."

Then, he continued, when Trump is cornered on his comments, rather than pulling back on them, sometimes he "doubles down," Ignatius noted. However, the editor said, as he has spoken with world and foreign policy leaders, they are concerned about Trump's tendency to "add more wood on the fire" rather than to create some space.

But as such comments are made, said Ignatius, Trump risks losing the support of Americans who want balance against Moscow and not a "nuclear arms race."

 

 

Spicer, speaking later on NBC's "Today" show, defended Trump's tweets and his comments to Brzezinski, saying that the president-elect has had "one success after another with Carrier, with Boeing" with his tweets, but Lauer pointed out that this time, the conversation is about nuclear proliferation.

"I understand that but other countries need to be put on notice that he is not going to sit back and allow them to undermine our safety, our sovereignty," said Spicer. "He is going to match other countries and take action."

He continued that there have been several countries, including Russia, that have talked about expanding their nuclear capabilities. On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he does plan to fortify the Russian nuclear arsenal.

"There have been several countries, Russia among them, that have talked about expanding their nuclear capability," said Spicer. "The point that he was making is very clear. Other countries, whether Russia, or others that want to threaten U.S. safety, we are not going to sit back and allow this country to not act."

But, Spicer said when Lauer asked if there is going to be an arms race, insisted "there is not going to be," even though Trump reportedly told Brzezinski that "we will match them at every turn."

"He is going to ensure other countries get the message he is not going to sit back and allow that," said Spicer. "What's going to happen is they will all come to their senses and we will all be just fine . . . he will get action, Matt."

"But you hit the word tweet, it sends — it goes out," said Lauer. "Our allies and our enemies are left to just react to it. . Isn't that dangerous?"

"Look what happened yesterday," Spicer said. "He put out a statement about the Egyptian motion that was going to happen at the U.N. It was revoked. [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi called, [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu called. He is getting results, whether it is domestically or abroad.

"The fact of the matter is, business as usual is over and things are going to change and America's going to be put first."

Putin on Thursday insisted that Trump's tweet was nothing new, as he'd had said the same things during his campaign for the presidency, The New York Times reported Friday.

Putin, during his annual news conference, said Russia will continue efforts to modernize all of its armed forces, including with nuclear weapons, but will be spending less, and that his nation is not seeking to renew the arms race or to develop new warheads, as Russia can already repulse any attacker, including the United States.

"Of course the U.S. has more missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers, but what we say is that we are stronger than any aggressor, and this is the case," Spicer said.

"As for Donald Trump, there is nothing new about it, during his election campaign he said the U.S. needs to bolster its nuclear capabilities and its armed forces in general."

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President-elect Donald Trump took off the gloves Friday when asked for clarification on his Twitter call for expansion of U.S. nuclear capabilities with a short, off-the air declaration: "Let it be an arms race."
trump, nuclear, arms, morning joe
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2016-15-23
Friday, 23 Dec 2016 07:15 AM
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