Mattis Refuses to Make ‘Political Assessment’ on Trump’s Fitness as President

Monday on PBS’s “NewsHour,” former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis refused to answer if he thought President Donald Trump was “fit” to be commander-in-chief, calling it a political assessment.

When asked about Trump’s handling of North Korea, Mattis said, “I’m going to frustrate you here, Judy. I don’t believe, now in the cheap seats, is what I would call myself, that I’m going to engage in political assessments of something like that. There will come a point where I want to talk about strategy and policy. It’s not yet, but there will come a time.”

When Woodruff asked, “Are you confident this is the president who can be trusted with the nuclear codes,” Mattis said, “Yes.”

He continued, “I have not heard anything that would indicate there was some irresponsibility there.”

He added, “I realize we have an unusual president, and he talks openly about many things, but, at the same time, in the privacy of the office, he has to deal with the reality of competing factors.”

Woodruff asked, “If you believe that this president or any president was not a fit commander-in-chief, would you say so?”

Mattis said, “Yes.”

Woodruff responded, “In other words, you think he’s fit?”

Mattis said, “No, I’m not saying that. I don’t make political assessments one way or the other. I come from the Defense Department. We protect this experiment in democracy. We don’t make assessments of the people’s choice to serve as the elected charged in chief.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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