Back in 2018, when Bob Woodward first reported that President Donald Trump had ordered the assassination of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Trump baulked at the mere suggestion. “No, that was never even contemplated, nor would it be contemplated and it should not have been written about in the book,” he said at the time.
Well, on Tuesday morning, he admitted that it was actually true.
In an interview with Fox & Friends, Trump happily contradicted himself and said: “I would’ve rather taken [Assad] out. I had it all set. Mattis didn’t want to do it.” Asked if he regretted not killing Assad, the president said: “No, I don’t regret that. I could have lived either way with that. I considered [Assad] certainly not a good person. But I had a shot to take him out if I wanted but Mattis was against it.”
According to Woodward’s first book on the dysfunctional Trump administration, Fear, Mattis actually told Trump he would “get right on it” when the president suggested the assassination, but then developed a safer plan that didn’t personally endanger Assad.
Trump has clearly not forgotten that reported sleight.
In his Fox & Friends interview, he repeatedly laid into Mattis, describing him as a “terrible general” and a “bad leader.” Told by Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade that Mattis was a “great American” who gave “a lot to the country,” Trump snapped back: “Well, I know him differently. I know him as a person and I just didn’t think he did a good job. I don’t say if he’s a good American or a bad American.”
Elsewhere in the call, Trump promised the uneasy-looking hosts that he intends to appear on Fox & Friends once a week for an interview in the run-up to the election. “We’ve agreed to do it probably mostly on Monday. We’re gonna do it mostly on Monday,” the president said during his Tuesday morning call.
However, host Steve Doocy refused to confirm that a deal had been stitched up, telling Trump: “You may want to do it every week, but Fox is not committed to that we’ll take it on a case-by-case basis, and Joe Biden as well, is always welcome to join us for 47 minutes like we just did with the president. All right Donald Trump, president of the United States.”