Defense Secretary James Mattis fired back on Tuesday, shooting down the alleged statements attributed to him in Bob Woodward’s new book about the Trump White House.
“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” an “exasperated” Mattis supposedly told the president when asked why the United States was spending money to keep a presence in South Korea, according to an excerpt from “Fear,” published Tuesday by The Washington Post.
After that meeting, Woodward writes, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.'”
Woodward also wrote that Mattis said, “No, Mr. President, I think you’ve got it reversed,” after President Trump allegedly called the late Senator John McCain a coward.
Those and other statements attributed to Mattis were strongly denied by the defense secretary in a statement released Tuesday.
“The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence,” Mattis said in a statement. “While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility.”
President Trump tweeted the entire statement Tuesday evening.
Statement from Secretary of Defense, James Mattis: pic.twitter.com/OneaxKCneV
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2018