Trump describes White House gathering of military leaders as 'calm before the storm'

Donald Trump, Melania TrumpPlayThe Associated Press
WATCH Trump describes White House gathering of military leaders as 'calm before the storm'

President Donald Trump made cryptic, seemingly threatening remarks during a White House gathering of U.S. military leaders Thursday night, saying it represented "the calm before the storm."

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The president made the comments as he and first lady Melania Trump posed for a group photo with his senior military leaders and their spouses in the State Dining Room of the White House.

"You guys know what this represents? Maybe the calm before the storm," the commander in chief said.

"We have the world's great military people in this room," he added, as live classical music played.

"What storm, Mr. President?" one reporter shouted.

"You'll find out," the president said.

Trump was equally coy on Friday in the Oval Office when he was asked again about the remark after he signed a proclamation about National Manufacturing Day.

"You'll find out," he said, after winking. "We'll see."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the president was not making a joke and that it continues to be the desire of the administration not to divulge the potential for military action, whether planned or not.

"I think you can take the president protecting the American people always extremely serious," she said, without offering further explanation for Trump's words. She did push back on the theory that he was "messing with the press."

"I think we have some serious world issues here," continued Sanders later in the briefing. "I think that North Korea, Iran both continue to be bad actors and the president is somebody who's going to always look for ways to protect Americans and he's not going to dictate what those actions may look like."

Prior to his Thursday evening comments, Trump said the group of military leaders would discuss the most pressing issues facing the country, including North Korea and Iran.

Trump said "tremendous progress" had been made with ISIS, adding, "I guess the media's going to be finding out about that over the next short period of time."

He also said Iran should not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

And of North Korea he said, "We cannot allow this dictatorship to threaten our nation or allies with unimaginable loss of life," adding that his administration will "do what we must do to prevent that from happening and it will be done, if necessary. Believe me."