Trump Announces Secretary Of Defense Pick And Attacks Media In First Rally Since Election

(Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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President-elect Donald Trump made it official Thursday night that retired Marine Corps General James Mattis is his choice to serve as secretary of defense and attacked the press during a victory tour rally in Ohio.

It was reported earlier in the day Thursday that Trump would select Mattis to lead the Department of Defense. His communications director Jason Miller promptly denied it.

Trump, however, let the crowd at the U.S. Bank Arena in on a “secret.”

“I don’t want to tell you this because I want to save the suspense for next week. So I will not tell you, I refuse to tell you and don’t let it outside of this room. Do you promise? Raise your hand,” Trump said. “We are going to appoint ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we’re not announcing it till Monday so don’t tell anybody.”

The president-elect said about that the retired Marine Corps general “they say he’s the closet thing to General Patton that we have and it’s about time.” Mattis retired as chief of U.S. Central Command in 2013, so to be appointed Congress will have to pass legislation to exempt Mattis from a federal law that prohibits defense secretaries from having been on active duty in the previous seven years. This exemption has been done before for George Marshall in 1950.

Outside of the Mattis announcement, Trump didn’t seem to have changed from his behavior on the campaign trail. He pointed at the press at one point and said, “the people back there the extremely dishonest press.”

“Very dishonest people. How dishonest. How about when a major anchor who hosted a debate started crying when she realized that we won,” Trump said referring to ABC’s Martha Raddatz.

The president-elect reiterated many of his other campaign themes. He spoke about needing to renegotiate trade deals, securing the border, bringing jobs to inner cities, and not having an interventionist foreign policy.

“Change is not going to be easy. I’m going to need you to fight as hard for these proposals as you fought for this campaign of ours,” Trump said. “Now that you put me in this position even if you don’t help me one bit, I’m going to get it done believe me.”