Trump once said he'd 'negotiate like crazy' with North Korea

Key Points
  • In a 1999 "Meet the Press" interview, President Donald Trump emphasized negotiation as the first step to dealing with North Korea.
  • The interview resurfaced as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to escalate.

President Donald Trump pledged to fight North Korea with "fire and fury" on Tuesday, but that wasn't always the case.

In an old clip from a "Meet the Press" interview in 1999, Trump said the first step he'd take to deal with "sort of wacko" North Korea is negotiation.

"First, I'd negotiate. I'd negotiate like crazy and I'd make sure that we'd try to get the best deal possible," Trump said.

The interview resurfaced as tensions continue to escalate between the U.S. and North Korea.

Trump's "fire and fury" statements were a response to reports that Pyongyang has successfully created a miniaturized nuclear weapon that fits inside missiles. North Korea has replied by saying the country is considering a strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, according to Reuters.

Donald Trump
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Although the interview was almost 20 years ago, Trump had already acknowledged and outlined how North Korea was growing to be a nuclear threat.

"The biggest problem this world has is nuclear proliferation. And we have a country out there, North Korea, which is sort of wacko, which is not a bunch of dummies, and they are going out and they are developing nuclear weapons," he said.

"They're laughing at us. They think we're a bunch of dummies. I'm saying we have to do something to stop."

Despite the late Tim Russert pointing out that making a pre-emptive strike against North Korea could lead to a "devastating" nuclear fallout for the Asian peninsula, Trump insisted that if negotiating fell through, it was best to address North Korea as soon as possible.

"You want to do it in five years when they have warheads all over the place with every one of them pointing towards New York City, towards Washington … is that when you want to do it? Or do you want to do something now? You better do it now."

CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.