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Tipsheet

Flashback: Here's What Trump Told Tim Russert in 1999 About Launching a Preemptive Strike Against NK

In a 1999 interview with NBC’s Tim Russert, Donald Trump weighed in on the nuclear threat from North Korea and said he’d be open to launching a preemptive strike against Pyongyang, but that he’d pursue negotiations first.

"You say ... as president, you would be willing to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea's nuclear capability,” Russert said.

"First I'd negotiate. I would negotiate like crazy,” Trump responded. “And I'd make sure that we tried to get the best deal possible. Look, Tim. If a man walks up to you on a street in Washington, because this doesn't happen, of course, in New York ... and puts a gun to your head and says give me your money, wouldn't you rather know where he's coming from before he had the gun in his hand?”

Trump went on to say the biggest threat the world faced was nuclear proliferation. He also stressed the importance of solving the problem then—nearly 20 years ago.

"Taking out their nuclear potential would create a fallout," Russert pointed out.

"Tim, do you know that this country gave them nuclear reactors, free fuel for 10 years. We virtually tried to bribe them into stopping and they're continuing to do what they're doing. And they're laughing at us, they think we're a bunch of dummies. I'm saying that we have to do something to stop," Trump replied.

“You want to do it in five years when they have warheads all over the place, every one of them pointing to New York City, to Washington and every one of our -- is that when you want to do it? Or do you want to do something now?” Trump added.

The interview resurfaced after President Trump threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if the rogue regime continues making threats.

 

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