NBC News defends Trump nuke story after White House denial

NBC News defends Trump nuke story after White House denial
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NBC News is defending its report that President Trump wanted a massive expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal after Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Stand with veterans instead of predatory for-profit colleges MORE pushed back on those claims.

Courtney Kube, a national security producer for NBC News, said the report never said Trump "called for" more nuclear weapons, rather only that he "said he wanted more."

NBC reported earlier Wednesday that Trump suggested dramatically expanding the country's nuclear capabilities — from roughly 4,000 to 32,000 warheads — after seeing data that showed the U.S. weapons stockpile decreasing from that level since the 1960s.

Defense Secretary James Mattis in a statement hit back at the NBC report, saying Trump never "called for" an increase in the nuclear arsenal.

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"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,” Mattis said.

Trump himself has attacked the network over the report on Twitter.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump tweeted.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” he added in another tweet.