Trump in 1999: We Better Do Something Now, North Korea Thinks "We're A Bunch Of Dummies"

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Donald Trump talks about North Korea in a 1999 interview with the late Tim Russert on Meet the Press.

"Jimmy Carter, who I really like, he went over there. It was so soft. These people are laughing at us," Trump said of the diplomatic mission to prevent nuclear proliferation.

"They think we're a bunch of dummies," he added.

"I'm saying that we have to do something to stop [them]," Trump said. "Do 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 us— is that when you want to do it, or do you want to do something now? You'd better do it now. And if they think you're serious— deal with lots of people— if they think you're serious, they'll negotiate and it'll never come to that."

From the October 24, 1999 broadcast:

TIM RUSSERT, MEET THE PRESS: Let me talk about some of the issues. One is North Korea. And you say that you, as president, would be willing to launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea's nuclear capability.

MR. TRUMP: First, I'd negotiate. I would negotiate like crazy. 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. But if a man walks up 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? And these people in three or four years are going to be having nuclear weapons. They're going to have those weapons pointed all over the world and specifically at the United States.

And wouldn't you be better off solving this really potentially, unbelievable—and the biggest problem? I mean, we can talk about the economy, we can talk about Social Security. The biggest problem this world has is nuclear proliferation. And we have a country out there, North Korea, which is sort of wacko, which is not a bunch of dummies. And they are going out and they are developing nuclear weapons. And they're not doing it because they're having fun doing it. They're doing it for a reason. And wouldn't it be good to sit down and really negotiate something and ideally negotiate? Now, if that negotiation doesn't work, you'd better solve the problem now than solve it later, Tim. And you know it and every politician knows it, and nobody wants to talk about it.

Jimmy Carter, who I really like, he went over there. It was so soft. These people are laughing at us.

MR. RUSSERT: The former general of the Air Force, Meryl McPeek, the former secretary of defense, Les Aspin, said you could not launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea because the nuclear fallout could be devastating to the Asian peninsula.

MR. TRUMP: I'm not talking about—I'm not talking about us using nuclear weapons. I'm saying that they have areas where they're developing missiles.

MR. RUSSERT: No, but taking out their nuclear potential...

MR. TRUMP: Do you know that this country, Tim...

MR. RUSSERT: ...would create a fallout.

MR. TRUMP: Tim, do you know that this country went out and 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. Ideally...

MR. RUSSERT: But if the military told you, "Mr. Trump, we can't do this..."

MR. TRUMP: You give me two names— you're giving me two names. I don't know. Do 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 us— is that when you want to do it, or do you want to do something now? You'd better do it now. And if they think you're serious— deal with lots of people— if they think you're serious, they'll negotiate and it'll never come to that.


President Trump tweeted about America's nuclear arsenal this morning:



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