NBC News is reporting about a July 20th meeting between President Trump and Pentagon officials in which he expressed an interest in greatly increasing America's nuclear stockpile. This exhortation was prompted by a slide which showed that America's nuclear arsenal was at its peak in the late 1960s, which Mr. Trump approved.
Rather than interpret this approval as a desire for a ten fold increase from today's nuclear levels, military officials appreciated it as the Commander-in-Chief wanting to increase America's military strength. This is consistent with Mr. Trump's pre-inaugural predilection to increase and expand America's nuclear capabilities.
But the episode revived questions about President Trump's familiarity with America's nuclear triad.
At one of the early Republican primary debates in late 2015, Hugh Hewitt questioned Mr. Trump's knowledge about the nuclear triad. Candidate Trump fumbled through the answer but insisted that while it is key to be careful about nukes, he would be well informed once in office and would concentrate on American strength not climate change and global warming.
This impetus to increase America's nuclear arsenal comes in the midst of a prospective conflict with a nascent rogue nuclear North Korea as well as the prospect of finding Iran being declared out of compliance with the Obama Iran Nuclear Deal.
Several concerns come from this National Security leak. Allegedly, after this July meeting, Secretary of State Tillerson was heard to call President Trump a "moron". Aside from the insult, this episode illustrates how far Rex Tillerson is out of step with the West Wing. It is reasonable to believe that once the crisis with North Korea cools down, Tillerson will no longer be at Foggy Bottom. There has been serious talk of a Trump Cabinet shuffle which CIA Director Mike Pompeo would move over to the State Department.
Some arms control experts vex that increasing America's nuclear stockpile would spur an arms race with the Russia Federation as well as the Peoples' Republic of China. Moreover, increases would challenge America's international treaty obligations.
As news about President Trump gunning to increase America's nuclear stockpile leaked out, Trump National Security Adviser Lt. General H.R. McMaster stated:
"But in recent years, in particular, the problem with leaks has become a real challenge to national security and so I think what is very important is that everyone who is involved in these sort of policy discussions understand the sacred trust that is placed in them, and they realize that speaking to the media about government deliberations is treasonous when it involves national security."
Those are bold words, meant to quell an alluvia of embarrassing leaks meant to damage the Trump Administration. But Lt. Gen. McMaster upped the ante by intimating treason. The question is whether the Trump Justice Department will be all talk and no action. Attorney General Sessions has allegedly demurred from seeking prosecutions of Democrats concerning Hillary Clinton's repeated mishandling of classified emails. Treason is a much more serious charge and more challenging to prosecute.