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Donald Trump and his staff contradicting each other on nuclear arms race

nuclear-weapons-3A tense new battle over nuclear arms erupts between Donald Trump and his staff, WP   December 23 It began, it seems, with a speech from Vladimir Putin on Thursday, during which the Russian president argued that his country’s nuclear arsenal needed to be upgraded. In short order a tense two-day stand-off began — between Donald Trump and the communications staffers on his transition team.

Trump weighs in.

Trump’s initial comment about nuclear proliferation was clear in its intent if vague in its boundaries.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” is not subtle, implying that as president Trump aims to match whatever it is that Russia does. That, as we pointed out on Thursday, means a new nuclear arms race, contravening decades of American foreign policy.

His team pushes back.

Not so fast, though. On Thursday afternoon, transition spokesman Jason Miller sent out a statement about Trump’s declaration.

“President-elect Trump was referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it—particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes,” Miller wrote in an email to The Post. “He has also emphasized the need to improve and modernize our deterrent capability as a vital way to pursue peace through strength.”

“[T]he threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it” is language that comports with existing policy — but it does not comport with what Trump himself said. The word “expand” is hard to avoid, but in the spirit of generosity one might allow that the president-elect misspoke on Twitter.

Trump suggests he meant what he said.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday, co-host Mika Brzezinski reported on a conversation she’d had directly with Trump.

CO-HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH: The president-elect told you what?

BRZEZINSKI: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass.”

SCARBOROUGH: “And outlast them all.”

BRZEZINSKI: “And outlast them all.”

SCARBOROUGH: OK. You can put that down as breaking news.

The conversation continued with the question of whether Trump was simply posturing in order to seem unpredictable. The Post’s David Ignatius, who was part of that discussion, noted that it was more likely that Trump was reverting to his old pattern: Being criticized for something he’d said and then doubling down on it in response.

The transition team assures us he didn’t mean what he said.

The conversation moved to NBC proper, where “Today” show host Matt Lauer spoke with Sean Spicer, recently identified as the incoming White House press secretary………

Spicer and Miller are caught in the middle between what Trump is saying and what Trump’s team wants him to say. As with all great conflicts, this one defies easy resolution.

December 24, 2016 - Posted by | politics, USA

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