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Published on August 4th, 2016 | by Eli Clifton

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Trump’s Love Affair with Nukes Is Actually a Threesome

by Eli Clifton

Yesterday morning, MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough revealed that “several months ago, a foreign policy expert, on the international level, went to advise Donald Trump and three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons.” Scarborough said that Trump asked the expert, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”

The Trump campaign denied the candidate’s seeming interest in first-strike nuclear attacks and naivety about deterrence theory. “There is no truth to this,” it told The Hill. But Trump has consistently refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, which puts him at odds with most, if not all, establishment foreign policy experts. For example, John Noonan, a former Air Force nuclear launch officer and a former foreign policy advisor to Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, lambasted Trump’s ignorance of nuclear deterrence in a series of tweets.

Trump might seem alone in his position, but he isn’t. The GOP’s biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, espoused a similar viewpoint, and Adelson has pledged as much as $100 million to putting Trump in the White House and in control of nuclear weapons.

In 2013, Adelson told an audience at Yeshiva University in New York:

What are we going to negotiate about? I would say “Listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something.” …You pick up your cell phone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say, “OK let it go.” And so there’s an atomic weapon, goes over ballistic missiles, the middle of the desert, that doesn’t hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever. Then you say, “See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.”

Adelson quietly funded many of the groups opposing the Iran nuclear agreement, including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and United Against Nuclear Iran.

Adelson may have been generous with these groups and the politicians who opposed the nuclear deal, but there’s no evidence that he has yet fulfilled his $100 million pledge to Trump. But Adelson and his wife attended the Republican convention in Cleveland, and the campaign may have its own backchannel to the GOP billionaire.

In June, Trump hired Michael Abboud, the nephew of Adelson’s top political advisor, as his communications coordinator. Abboud seems to have a central role in the campaign’s messaging. His name appeared in the metadata as the author of a leaked campaign memo that offered talking points this week on how to execute an “urgent pivot” away from Trump’s feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq.

Trump’s fringe position on using nuclear weapons will probably retreat to the back of the queue as the GOP candidate bounces from one controversy to another at a frenetic pace. Still, his advocacy for the use of nuclear weapons puts him squarely in the camp of the GOP’s biggest donor and the likely source of $100 million to support Trump’s presidential run.

Photo: Sheldon Adelson


About the Author

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Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



4 Responses to Trump’s Love Affair with Nukes Is Actually a Threesome

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  1. avatar edding says:

    Sorry, but nuclear first strikes have not been ruled out by Clinton, or our ally joined at the hip- namely, the U.K. under Theresa May. As for the Pentagon that Clinton or Trump will inherit after Obama goes out to pasture, Obama has put it on the fast track to develop the next generation of nuclear weapons at an expense expected to exceed a trillion smackeroos. And, of course, the Democrats (and Establishment Republicans) have made Russia our existential threat (while Trump has challenged that dogma and suggested diffusing tensions), so characterizing Trump as reckless (which in fact he may be) while ignoring Hillary’s reckless rhetoric and long record of recklessness and train of devastation in its wake, seem a bit disingenuous. We are living in a dangerous world with too many demagogues profiting from their demagoguery running the show in our country. IMHO, we need a few more Tulsi Gabbards, rather than the nasty female chicken hawks on human growth hormone who have been screwing up all over the place, to prove that women in power make sense.

  2. avatar edding says:

    P.S. If Trump made the comments attributed to him by the sleazy and less than credible Joe Scarborough quoting an ‘unnamed foreign policy expert’, what are we to make of it, if the ‘foreign policy expert’ is not identified and the comments attributed to the unidentified party cannot be independently confirmed?

    And when I hear liberal pundits saying Trump is so right-wing that even Michael Hayden won’t vote, I have to chuckle, since the logical implication is that Hayden cannot tolerate Trump’s willingness to deal with Putin on a pragmatic basis. As for Hayden not voting- he should have been convicted of multiple felonies and prevented from voting a long time ago.

  3. avatar allouez39 says:

    The “Trump problem” Mika and Joe are discussing with their dumbfounded guests this morning has a solution. The Republican National Committee was required to “certify” its nominee to the government in Washington, probably to the Federal Election Commission, immediately after the Republican National Convention. I presume that has been done.

    If what they and their panel are so courageously saying today is true, what is the Committee’s duty at this point? Isn’t it obvious? PASS A RESOLUTION TO DECERTIFY TRUMP AS THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE AND CHOOSE A RESPONSIBLE MAN OR WOMAN. An example the whole Party could receive with a sigh of relief would be Michael Bloomberg. Mind you, he is just an example.

    Let the courts sort it out while the Party moves remorselessly to the election.

  4. The thought this no nothing idiot Trump in control of the US nuke arsenal is scary. How can a sane person support such a thin skin short temper bully is beyond me. Trump will damage the US more than any place else. You know that many US enemies are hoping Trump becomes president so that the rest of the world turns against the US thus loosing the influence and power.

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