President Donald Trump on Monday dismissed as “ridiculous” a report that he proposed detonating nuclear bombs inside hurricanes to weaken the storms before they make landfall along U.S. shorelines.
“The story by Axios that President Trump wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore is ridiculous,” Trump tweeted, referring to himself in the third person. “I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!”
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Axios on Sunday reported that Trump offered up the scientifically dubious proposal “multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials” early in his presidency, including during a hurricane briefing when he specifically mentioned using nuclear weapons on powerful trans-Atlantic storms.
Trump also reportedly talked about bombing hurricanes on a second occasion with a senior administration official, according to a 2017 National Security Council memo describing the conversation. That memo does not clarify whether the president was referring to nuclear weapons, according to Axios.
When asked about the story, a senior administration official said: “We don’t comment on private discussions that the president may or may not have had with his national security team.”
Axios national political reporter Jonathan Swan, who co-authored the story with politics and White House editor Margaret Talev, responded to Trump’s denial on Monday.
“I stand by every word in the story. He said this in at least two meetings during the first year and a bit of the presidency, and one of the conversations was memorialized,” Swan tweeted.
“Not to mention that we gave the White House press team full visibility of everything we were reporting nine hours before publication. We published their statement in the story,” he added.
Talev also weighed in on Twitter, writing: “We stand by our reporting.”
The president’s tweet was posted as he participated in a press gaggle alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, according to a White House pool report.
Trump on Monday skipped a session on climate, biodiversity and oceans attended by other world leaders, although White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said a senior administration official was there in his place.
Trump has kept up his attacks on the media during his overseas trip, criticizing reporters’ coverage of the annual convocation since departing the White House on Friday evening.
He tweeted on Saturday that “The Media is destroying the Free Press!” in an apparent reference to comments by conservative radio host Mark Levin.
On Sunday, Trump asserted on Twitter that members of “the Fake and Disgusting News” media “are trying to force a Recession” and “are trying to ‘will’ America into … bad Economic times.”
The president later Sunday slammed “Such False and Inaccurate reporting thus far on the G-7,” and claimed that the “question I was asked most today by fellow World Leaders … happens to be, ‘Mr. President, why does the American media hate your Country so much? Why are they rooting for it to fail?’”
Trump alleged again Sunday evening that fellow heads of government in France were joining him in mocking American journalists, tweeting that “we are all laughing at how knowingly inaccurate the U.S. reporting of events and conversations at the G-7 is.”
He continued: “These Leaders, and many others, are getting a major case study of Fake News at it’s finest! They’ve got it all wrong, from Iran, to China Tariffs, to Boris!”