Mattis Said National Intelligence May Be Forced to Take 'Collective Action' against 'Unfit' Trump, According to New Woodward Book

Former Secretary of Defense General Jim Mattis speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, September 9, 2019.
(Gary He/Reuters)

Former defense secretary Jim Mattis told then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats they may have to take “collective action” against President Trump due to his unfitness for office, according to a new book by Bob Woodward.

In excerpts of the book,”Rage,” published in the Washington Post Woodward, who is famed for his investigative reporting work around the Watergate scandal, writes that Mattis went to Washington National Cathedral in May 2019 to pray about his concern for the country under Trump’s leadership. Soon after praying for the country, he told Coats, “There may come a time when we have to take collective action” because Trump is “dangerous. He’s unfit.”

In another conversation with Coats, who left the administration last year, Mattis said the president “has no moral compass,” and Coats responded, “True. To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie,” according to Woodward.

Trump was mutually critical, having reportedly once told White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, “Not to mention my f**king generals are a bunch of p**sies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals,” Woodward, an associate editor at the Post, wrote.

Woodward also quotes Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, as saying, “The most dangerous people around the president are overconfident idiots.” Woodward says this is in reference to Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.

The book, set to be released next week, covers Trump’s handling of the pandemic as well as race relations, diplomacy with North Korea and other issues the nation has faced in the past two years. 

Woodward describes an at times tense relationship between U.S. intelligence chiefs and Trump over the president’s handling of North Korea.

While intelligence officials cautioned that North Korea will likely never surrender its nuclear weapons and that Trump’s approach is ineffective, the president said the CIA has “no idea” how to handle North Korea, Woodward wrote.

Trump defended his pen-pal relationship with Kim Jong Un as well as his three face-to-face meetings with the North Korean leader, saying he “gave up nothing.”

In letters exchanged between the two leaders, according to Woodward, Kim wrote that he wanted “another historic meeting between myself and Your Excellency reminiscent of a scene from a fantasy film” and called his meetings with Trump a “precious memory” that emphasized how the “deep and special friendship between us will work as a magical force.”

In another letter Kim recalled “that moment of history when I firmly held Your Excellency’s hand at the beautiful and sacred location as the whole world watched with great interest,” saying he hopes “to relive the honor of that day.”

Foreign affairs experts argue that Trump gave a lot to North Korea in postponing and later scaling back joint military exercises with South Korea that had angered Kim and in giving the dictator international stature and legitimacy.

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