Donald Trump blasts report saying he asked military leaders to increase US nuclear arsenal

The conversation reportedly took place during a meeting at the Pentagon in July, and the president says he asked only that our nuclear weapons be in "tip-top shape."
2:37 | 10/11/17

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Transcript for Donald Trump blasts report saying he asked military leaders to increase US nuclear arsenal
Brian, thank you. President trump tonight blasting a report that he told military officials that he wanted a major increase in the U.S. Nuclear arsenal. That conversation reportedly taking place during a meeting at the Pentagon back in July. But the president says it is not true, though he has suggested expanding the nuclear capability in this country in the past. And tonight, general Mattis is also weighing in. Here's ABC's chief white house correspondent Jonathan Karl. Reporter: At an oval office photo-op with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, we asked president trump about a report that he had asked for a ten-fold increase in the U.S. Nuclear arsenal. Do you want to increase the nuclear arsenal? No, I never discussed increasing it. I want it in perfect shape. That was just fake news by NBC, which gives a lot of fake news lately. Reporter: The report by NBC news said that during a July 20th meeting at the Pentagon, trump told military leaders he wanted a bigger nuclear stockpile, what it was back in the 1960s, nearly ten times the number of warheads today. Secretary of defense Jim Mattis, who was at the meeting, today flatly denied that that happened, issuing a statement, saying "Recent reports that the president called for an increase in the U.S. Nuclear arsenal are absolutely false. NBC says it stands by its report. The president told us he wants to modernize the weapons, not add more of them. You want no increase whatsoever? You're happy with the current size? We won't need an increase. But I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation. It's got to be in tip-top shape. Reporter: That's actually a change from December, when he tweeted, quote, "The united States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." Today, the president didn't just dispute the NBC report, but went so far as to question their right to report it. And it's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it. Reporter: And on Twitter, he seemed to make a threat. "With all of the fake news coming out of NBC and the networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license? Bad for country!" Jon Karl with us live tonight from the white house. And Jon, aside from the headline involving the nuclear arsenal, there's major news out of the white house. The president's pick for homeland security? Rorter: The white house has announced that the president will nominate kirstjen Nielsen. She is somebody who knows Kelly quite well. She served as his chief of staff over at the department of homeland security and is currently the principle deputy chief of staff here at the white house. David? Jon Karl, our thanks to you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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