Trump on Nukes: 'Let It Be an Arms Race'
Remarks made in 'off-air conversation' with Mika Brzezinski
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2016 10:34 AM CST
President-elect Donald Trump takes a question from a member of the media at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – Donald Trump woke everyone from their pre-Christmas slumber Thursday with a tweet calling for a strengthened and expanded US nuclear arsenal. His tweet followed remarks made earlier by Vladimir Putin in which he called for his country's "need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces," per Yahoo. On Friday, Trump doubled down on his previous remarks during what Politico calls an "off-air conversation" on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "Let it be an arms race … we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all," he said. (Politico notes some flip-flopping on nuclear issues, citing a March New York Times interview in which he said, "It's a very scary nuclear world. Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation.")

Not in on his latest stance, apparently: his own team. Per a transcript posted by NBC's Katy Tur on Twitter, Trump's new White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Rachel Maddow Thursday night "we're getting ahead of ourselves" when Maddow mentioned a "new nuclear arms race." And, per a tweet by CNN's David Wright, incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted on Today Friday that "there is not going to be" an arms race and that "we will all be just fine." A short time later on CNN's New Day, Spicer said the remarks Trump made to Morning Joes' Mika Brzezinski "was a private conversation. I was not privy to that," per Mediaite. Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star wonders: "Is there any point of quoting clarifications from Trump spokespeople? They've proven to be unreliable interpreters of him." One person shrugging off arms race chatter: Putin, who said Friday Trump's tweet was "nothing new," per Politico.

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