Today, Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a surprise appearance the Department of Defense press room during the daily briefing. His main purpose was to talk a bit about the President Trump’s refusal to certify the Iran deal to Congress. Mattis said he supported the call made by Trump. Then the subject of the now-infamous July 20 meeting where it was claimed that Trump had demanded a “ten-fold” increase in nuclear warheads and where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly called Trump a moron. He provided more detail than he did when he first addressed the story earlier in the week.
Q. Can we ask you about the meeting on July 20th here in the tank (note: the “tank” is the JCS secure conference room)? Did the president request more nukes for the US military?
MATTIS: Let me just tell you, I saw that article and at first I thought maybe, I hate to say it, that somebody clipped something out, they, my staff, sometimes does things to keep my attention and actually to surprise me, I’m thinking. At first I wondered if they were, it was one of those, it’s a way to keep a little bit of lightheartedness and a rather grim job. And I say that because when I first saw it I had to go back and read the price (?), it said it was at the tank meeting, was when it was, and I’ll put it this way. I don’t remember that subject or that tone in that tank meeting or any other meeting. I don’t want to make it look like well maybe it happened outside the room or any other meeting including anywhere else. And, by the way, I walked out with three people and the vice president right behind us, the president and the Secretary of State we walked out together. Some of you will remember, were any of you any up there when we came out?
The Washington Examiner has more:
“There was no discussion with that tone or that content that I recall in the Pentagon or at any other time,” Mattis told reporters during an impromptu visit to the Pentagon press area. “I will even remove that I recall. I think I would recall a conversation about doubling or ten times the nukes, Okay. I’ve never had that discussion.”
The secretary said such a suggestion by Trump would have required him to follow up. He released a short statement earlier this week denying the report, which said the president pointed to a chart of current nuclear weapons and indicated the level of increase he wanted.
“If I had gotten word like that I surely would have asked for a meeting to go back over and say whether or not I thought it was good idea,” Mattis said.
He also recounted the July meeting with Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Vice President Mike Pence, and other top officials in a secure meeting room at the Pentagon where Tillerson reportedly called the president a “moron.”
Mattis said he left the meeting walking with both Trump and Tillerson along a rope line of troops, where both shook hands.
“I was right there so anyone who says that he called someone a moron, I mean, I was there with him the whole way and that never happened,” Mattis said.
Right now you have a choice. You can believe some unnamed sources who shopped this story to NBC for purely malicious reasons or you can believe Mattis and Tillerson. Unfortunately, this choice is not going to change the minds of the people who bought the NBC story in the first place.