Donald Trump asked a foreign policy expert advising him why America can't use nuclear weapons, it was claimed yesterday.
MNSBC host Joe Scarborough made the claim on air, citing an unnamed source who claimed he had spoken with the GOP presidential nominee.
"Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on the international level went to advise Donald Trump. And three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we had them why can't we use them," Scarborough said on his "Morning Joe" programme.
A spokesman for Mr Trump last night said that there was "no truth to the claims." Mr Scarborough made his remarks during an interview with former Director of Central Intelligence and ex-National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden.
Mr Scarborough then asked a hypothetical question to Mr Hayden about how quickly nuclear weapons could be deployed if a president were to give approval.
"It's scenario dependent, but the system is designed for speed and decisiveness. It's not designed to debate the decision," Mr Hayden said. Also yesterday Mr Trump refused to support the re-election of two leading Republicans, Paul Ryan and John McCain, in an unprecedented move that has reopened huge divisions within the party.
The latest controversy erupted as Barack Obama called Mr Trump "unfit" to be president and Francois Hollande described the Republican nominee as "sickening" for attacking the parents of a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq.
In March, Mr Trump refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against Europe, telling the same network he is not willing to "take any cards off the table". Mr Trump said he was "not quite there yet" in endorsing the party's top-ranking elected official, Mr Ryan, the house speaker. He also declined to back Mr McCain, the 2008 presidential candidate whose own military record has been mocked by Mr Trump, and called Kelly Ayotte, the Republican New Hampshire senator, weak and disloyal.
All three Republicans were among leading politicians from both sides of the divide to criticise Mr Trump for his mockery of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son Humayun Khan, a US army captain, was killed in Iraq in 2004 by a suicide bomber. "We need very strong leadership . . . and I'm just not quite there yet," Mr Trump said about Mr Ryan - using the same words he himself had used when he initially declined to endorse Mr Trump.
Mr Ryan's spokesman said on Tuesday night that the house speaker had never asked for Mr Trump's endorsement in the first place.
The extraordinary comments from the Republican nominee highlighted how divided the party remains two weeks after its Cleveland convention and just over three months before the general election.
Latest polling figures suggested the Khan family controversy had given a boost to Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump's Democratic rival.
According to the a poll by Reuters/ Ipsos released on Tuesday night, Mrs Clinton leads Mr Trump by 8pc - up by two points on last week's figures. (© Daily Telegraph London, and agencies)