Donald Trump did not deny media reporting that the US Department of Defense has set up a task force to examine “unidentified alien phenomena” after the Air Force released a video earlier this year showing pilots flying by what many people have speculated was a UFO.
“Can you explain why the Department of Defense has set up a UFO task force?” Fox News host Maria Bartiromo asked Mr Trump in an interview on Sunday.
“Are there UFOs?” she asked.
“Well, I'm going to have to check on that. I mean, I've heard that. I heard that two days ago. So I'll check on that. I'll take a good, strong look at that,” Mr Trump said.
He then quickly segued into a boast about US military might, which some people on Twitter took to be the president threatening aliens with human weaponry.
“I will tell you this, we now have created a military the likes of which we've never had before, in terms of equipment. The equipment that we have, the weapons that we have, and hopefully — hope to god we never have to use them,” Mr Trump said.
“Russia, China, they’re all envious of what we’ve had. All built in the USA, we’ve rebuilt it, $2.5trn. As far as the other question, I’ll have to check on it. I heard about it two days ago actually,” he said.
Mr Trump has not shied away from playful chatter about aliens and UFOs.
In an interview with his son Don Jr in June, the president hinted that he had seen some “interesting things” about the famous alleged UFO sighting and crash in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.
US defence officials claimed the object that crashed was a weather balloon, but the explanation has not dissuaded UFO enthusiasts from treating the city and the broader region as a kind of pilgrimage site.
Eventually the US military admitted that the wreckage was part of a top-secret atomic project.