Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said there was no truth to reports that the Pentagon is engaging in “damage control” after President Donald Trump’s meeting with allies in Brussels, Belgium.
“I just heard about this story that the Pentagon is in damage control,” Mattis told reporters in a short press conference with reporters. “That was fascinating, I love reading fiction.” (RELATED: Trump Attacks ‘Dishonest Reporting’ On NATO Summit)
Mattis, who spoke with reporters during his flight from Zagreb, Croatia, to Oslo, Norway, Friday, said the administration is getting strong results in discussions with NATO allies.
NBC News reported Friday that senior military officials were doing damage control after Trump clashed with representatives of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. Pentagon officials were making a series of calls to allies and “reinforcing alliance commitments” since Trump had “made it clear alliance commitments were on the table” during negotiations, according to an unidentified source NBC quoted.
Mattis said the news was not fact based, and suggested the reporters accompanying him in “full transparency” would have noticed if the NBC report was true.
“It must have been the most pleasant damage control … I ever could have imagined, with the level of unity, of purpose that we experienced there,” Mattis said. “People are entitled to their opinion even if it is not fact-based.”
During the Brussels summit, Trump urged NATO countries to increase defense spending to four percent of their GDP, after criticizing nations who failed for years to live up to commitments to contribute two percent.
Mattis met with Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on his own trip to Europe, where the two discussed Croatia’s commitment to increase defense spending, according to the Department of Defense.
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