President Donald Trump on Wednesday said it was “frankly disgusting” that the media “is able to write whatever it wants to write,” following a report from NBC News that the President had proposed increasing America’s nuclear arsenal nearly tenfold in a July meeting.
NBC News cited three unnamed officials in the room in its report. But Trump later called the report “pure fiction” and wondered on Twitter, referring to the network: “at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?”
On Wednesday, during a press availability with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said of NBC and the media in general: “They have their sources that don’t exist, in my opinion, they don’t exist. They make up the sources. There are no sources. Any other questions?”
“I never discussed increasing it,” he said earlier of the nuclear arsenal. “I want it in perfect shape. That was just fake news by NBC, which gives a lot of fake news lately. No, I never discussed.”
“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it,” he added.
Returning to the topic later, Trump said “[t]he press should speak more honestly.”
“I mean, I’ve seen tremendously dishonest press,” he continued. “It’s not even a question of distortion. Like the question that was just asked before, about the 10 times the capability. I know the capability that we have, believe me, and it is awesome. It is massive. So when they make up stories like that, that’s just made up.”
Trump noted that Defense Secretary James Mattis “put out a statement, or is putting out a statement, saying that that was fake news, that it was just mentioned that way”
Around the same time, Mattis released a new statement, according to ABC News’ Dan Linden: “Recent reports that the President called for an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal are absolutely false. This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible.”