Trump says he didn’t share classified information following Woodward book
President Trump on Thursday denied disclosing classified military information after excerpts from veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book said the president boasted about a supposedly secret nuclear weapons system.
Speaking to a crowd at a campaign rally in Freeland, Mich., Trump complained about the “fake news” discussing his alleged disclosure of classified information without mentioning the Woodward book specifically.
He said he did not disclose secret material but simply wanted to inform people that the United States has the “greatest weapons in the world.”
“I said, we have systems and missiles and rockets and military — we have systems that you’ve never even seen before. President Xi has nothing like it. Putin has nothing like it,” Trump told the crowd, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “And they said, is he giving away military information. No, I’m saying we have the greatest weapons in the world.”
“They said, he may be giving away classified information,” Trump continued. “These people are sick. Never speak well about our technology because you’re giving away classified information. No, I just want to let people know we have the greatest systems, the greatest equipment and the greatest people anywhere in the world. There is nobody like the U.S. military.”
According to excerpts of Woodward’s forthcoming book “Rage,” published by The Washington Post and other news outlets on Wednesday, Trump discussed the weapons system in an interview with Woodward when talking about how close the U.S. and North Korea came to nuclear war in 2017.
“I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about,” Trump told Woodward.
“We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before,” Trump continued. “There’s nobody — what we have is incredible.”
Woodward reported that unnamed sources later confirmed a new weapons system but declined to provide further details and expressed surprise at Trump’s disclosure, according to the Post.
James Acton, co-director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear policy program, said Wednesday that Trump could have been referring to the controversial submarine-launched low-yield nuclear warhead, the existence of which is known though details of it remain classified.
Trump made the remarks Thursday at the rally during an aside about his efforts to invest in the U.S. military during his administration.
He made similar remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews shortly before departing the Washington, D.C., area for Michigan.
“No, we have great, great weaponry. No, I’m not talking about classified; I’m talking about what we build. We’re building great weaponry. Our military is stronger now than it’s ever been,” Trump said when asked if he shared classified information about a nuclear weapons system with Woodward.
The revelation was one of several from the Woodward book, which also said that Trump acknowledged downplaying the coronavirus in a private interview in March and spoke about its severity in another interview in February at a time when he was minimizing the threat of the disease publicly.
Trump has denied lying to the public, saying he only wanted to instill “calm.”