Trump: I believe Obama would have gone to war with North Korea

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE said Friday that he believes former President Obama would have gone to war with North Korea, a claim that members of Obama’s inner circle immediately denied.

Speaking during an impromptu news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Trump said Obama once told him he was “so close” to launching a “big war” over North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions.

“I don’t want to speak for him, but I believe he would have gone to war with North Korea,” Trump said of his predecessor. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump made the remarks after recounting a long meeting he had with Obama at the White House that took place shortly after Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report The wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report MORE in the presidential election, in which Obama named Pyongyang as Washington’s greatest foreign policy challenge.

Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser under Obama, tweeted after Trump spoke that “we were not on the brink of war with North Korea in 2016.”

“Highlighting the longstanding and widely known threat of North Korea’s nuclear program is very different from saying you’re about to start a big war,” he also wrote.

Meanwhile, former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanThe wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report Ex-CIA director blasts Trump over 'temper tantrums' Ex-CIA director: 'I don't have any doubt' Trump will pardon Manafort MORE told NBC News that “President Obama was never on the verge of starting any war with North Korea, large or small.” 

Trump repeatedly touted his outreach to Kim during his Friday press conference, which was billed as an announcement on the national emergency declaration but also veered into talking about North Korea, China and trade with the United Kingdom and included verbal battles with reporters.

Trump said he had “established a very good relationship” with Kim, which he argued “has never happened before" between the North Korean and the U.S. governments.

The two men are expected to meet in Vietnam later this month for their second summit.

“I hope we have the same good luck as we had in the first summit. A lot was done in the first summit,” Trump said on Friday. “No more rockets going up, no more missiles going up, no more testing of nuclear.”

-- Updated at 2:26 p.m.