Wednesday as part of his book tour, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss his time in the Trump administration.
Husband and wife co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski asked Mattis multiple times for an assessment on President Donald Trump’s leadership and competency, which Mattis refused to do, saying the issue that led to his departure “goes back several administrations.”
“With all due respect, obviously national security secrets and issues you can speak on, but there’s so much to say about the damage being done to our alliances, the break down of our core values, the respect for the basics of our Constitution — at what point, when is it time to stand up and speak to what is happening? And you may call it the cheap seats, but you have a lot more insight and credibility than anybody who’s ever been at this table. And at what point is it important to say something or become part of the problem because we know what is happening, we see what is happening, and yet nobody speaks to it with the insight that perhaps someone you would have, like you,” posed Brzezinski.
“I don’t know how I could have spoken more loudly to where I stand than what I put in my letter of resignation, and quitting a job when I had not completed it two years in,” Mattis replied. “I think, too, this goes back several administrations. This didn’t start overnight. This isn’t about one man. And the solution is not going to be about one person speaking out. It’s going to be about the majority of Americans saying, ‘That’s enough. We owe better to the next generation than what we’re doing right now.'”
“So, is there a statute of limitations on this?” asked Scarborough.
“Probably, on policy and strategy, there will come a time — not right now,” Mattis responded.
Scarborough followed up, “What about competence and character to actually be commander in chief?”
The retired United States Marine Corps general stated, “I believe the political assessments should be left to the wisdom of the American people,” adding former military members should not pass evaluations on political leaders.
Scarborough then shared a story about Brzezinski’s father, who he said never had anything bad to say about former President Jimmy Carter despite being an opinionated man.
“I always respected and admired him for that,” he added. “We think, though, you should make an exception before the 2020 election.”
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