Fact Check

Did Trump Ask Advisers About 'Nuking' Hurricanes?

A report from Axios suggested the question was raised on more than one occasion.

Published Aug. 27, 2019

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U.S. President Donald Trump has asked his advisers about the feasibility of stopping hurricanes with nuclear bombs.

On Aug. 25, 2019, Axios reported that “President Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States.” Citing “sources who have heard the president's private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments,” Axios described two of those occasions in detail:

During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, "I got it. I got it. Why don't we nuke them?" according to one source who was there. "They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they're moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can't we do that?" the source added, paraphrasing the president's remarks ...

Trump also raised the idea in another conversation with a senior administration official. A 2017 NSC memo describes that second conversation, in which Trump asked whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to stop them from hitting the homeland. A source briefed on the NSC memo said it does not contain the word "nuclear"; it just says the president talked about bombing hurricanes.

Reacting to the report, Trump declared it to be “fake news,” suggesting the claim that he “wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore” was “ridiculous.”

In response, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, who reported the story with Margaret Talev, tweeted that he stood by what he wrote, reiterating Axios' sourcing:

Snopes cannot independently verify the claims of anonymous sources cited in the Axios story, or claims contained within documents we have not seen. As such, we rank the claim "Unproven." This rating could change if corroborating information becomes public.

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Swan, Jonathan and Margaret Talev.   “Scoop: Trump Suggested Nuking Hurricanes to Stop Them from Hitting U.S.”     Axios.   25 August 2019.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.