Donald Trump: I Would’ve Rather Taken out Bashar al-Assad

Syria President Bashar al-Assad addresses reporters following his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday Dec. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)
Remy de la Mauvinier/AP Photo

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would have rather killed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2017.

“I would’ve rather taken him out. I had him all set,” Trump said in an interview on Fox and Friends when asked about his response to a chemical attack on civilians in Syria.

The president blamed his former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for opposing him on the idea.

“Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general,” Trump continued.

Trump responded to al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons by launching cruise missiles against military targets in the country.

When asked if he regretted not killing al-Assad, Trump said he was fine with the decision.

“No, I don’t regret that,” he said. “I could have lived either way with that. I considered him certainly not a good person, but I had a shot to take him out if I wanted and Mattis was against it.”

Author Bob Woodward reported in 2018 that Trump had ordered Mattis to “f–king kill” Assad, but that Mattis intervened. At the time, Trump said that killing Assad was never discussed.

“That was never contemplated, nor would it be contemplated,” Trump said to reporters in September 2018.

But during his interview with Fox and Friends, Trump confirmed that he did consider it, but that Mattis was opposed to the idea.

“Mattis was against most of that stuff,” Trump said.

The president said that he was very disappointed with Mattis, accusing him of being a Defense Secretary that “didn’t know how to win.”

“I didn’t like him, I fired him and he was terrible, to me, he was a terrible general and a bad leader and he wasn’t doing the job with ISIS,” he said.

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