Defense Secretary James Mattis declared on Oct. 11 that an NBC News report alleging that President Donald Trump asked for a tenfold increase in the nuclear weapons stockpile was false.
Mattis released a statement after Trump tweeted: "Fake [NBC News] made up a story that I wanted a 'tenfold' increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!"
"Recent reports that the president called for an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal are absolutely false," Mattis said, according to Politico. "This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible."
NBC's Oct. 11 report stated that Trump made the request to increase the number of nuclear weapons at a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon, according to CNN.
In brief remarks to the press at the White House on Oct. 11, Trump accused NBC of making up its sources. On Twitter earlier in the day, he suggested the administration could revoke NBC's broadcast license due to its "fake news."
In another report about the July 20 meeting at the Pentagon, NBC alleged that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning after it. NBC suggested that Tillerson labeled Trump a "moron."
Although a U.S. Department of State spokesperson denied Tillerson made such a remark, CNN reported on Oct. 11 that the secretary of state made the comment after a tense meeting.
"It was a rough day and people weren't focused on what the secretary said, they were focused on what the president said," an official told CNN. "It was a rough session for the DOD people. They had their leadership questioned in a very direct way, and if anything came out from meeting, it was that."
Trump denied any tensions between himself and Tillerson on Oct. 11.
"We actually have a very good relationship," said Trump.
Three sources who spoke to CNN stated that there was no discussion at the July 20 meeting about nuclear weapons, and the news channel noted that it has not been able to confirm NBC's report about Trump's alleged remarks on nuclear weapons.
Trump has expressed his view on nuclear weapons before, including in a Feb. 23 Reuters interview.
"I am the first one that would like to see ... nobody have nukes, but we're never going to fall behind any country even if it's a friendly country, we're never going to fall behind on nuclear power," Trump stated in the interview. "It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack."
He reiterated on Oct. 11 that the U.S. has to maintain its current stockpile.
"When they said I want 10 times what we have right now, it's totally unnecessary, believe me," said Trump, according to CNN. "It's got to be in tip-top shape."
Sources: Donald J. Trump/Twitter, Politico, CNN, Reuters / Featured Image: Dominique A. Pineiro via Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr / Embedded Images: Joyce N. Boghosian via The White House/Flickr, U.S. Department of State/Flickr