It was the strangest of settings for some very serious breaking news. There was Mika Brzezinski, cuddled up in her flannels on Morning Joe‘s special Christmas set. In the previous segment, Joe Scarborough had grilled Sean Spicer, whom President-elect Trump yesterday named as his White House spokesman, over Trump’s tweet of yesterday in which he said that the US needed to greatly strengthen its nuclear arsenal.

Spicer repeatedly refused to say that the Trump tweet came in response from a statement by Vladimir Putin, just hours earlier, announcing Russia’s intention to strengthen its own nuclear arsenal.

When the show returned after a break, Spicer was gone, but Mika and Joe announced that during the break Spicer had been on the phone with Trump, that Mika had posed a question about the nuclear tweet, and that in response Trump told her: “let it be an arms race because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let’s talk about the tweet yesterday. Obviously causing a lot of concern in the foreign policy community about nuclear weapons. There seemed to be a bit of a clarification that came out later on that you’re not talking about expanding the nuclear arsenal. Donald Trump was talking about that, but modernizing the nuclear arsenal.

SEAN SPICER: Well, there’s another piece of this. Other countries need to understand that if they expand their nuclear capabilities, this president is not going to sit back. He’s going to act.

JOE: Are you talking specifically about Russia, Putin yesterday talking about expanding?

SPICER: There’s a few countries around the globe, Russia being one of them, China, others that have talked about increasing their nuclear capabilities. I think the President-elect’s point is unless these guys come to their senses and recognize that this is not a smart move, increasing the nuclear stockpile around the globe is not good for anybody, but the US is not going to sit back and take it.

JOE: But this is a reaction to what Putin said earlier?

SPICER: Look, it’s not a reaction. It’s a point that he’s making. Domestically and internationally, business as usual is over. This guy is going to bring real change. And that means if our partners around the globe think the US is going to sit back, they’re sadly mistaken.

JOE: And that includes Vladimir Putin —

SPICER: That includes everyone.

JOE: — partner or enemy again, this was a response. This was a response to what Putin said a couple hours earlier, right?

SPICER: Look, I said. I think it’s putting every nation on notice that the United States is going to reassert its position in the globe and make sure that if you act, the United States is going to act.

[after the break]

Joe: Welcome back to Morning Joe.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: This just happened.

JOE: Sean Spicer —

MIKA: He just left but he was on the phone –

JOE: — with the President-elect. Mika asked the President-elect while we had the opportunity what his position was on trying to clarify the tweet yesterday regarding the nuclear arsenal, and the President-elect told you what?

MIKA: Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass.

JOE: And outlast them all.

MIKA: And outlast them all.

JOE: All right. So, you can put that down as breaking news.

MIKA: There you go. Check.


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