Trump’s defense secretary called him ‘a madman in a circular room screaming’, new book reveals

Jim Mattis resigned as Mr Trump’s first defense secretary after the president withdrew troops from Syria in 2018

Katie Hawkinson
Saturday 11 May 2024 11:00 BST
Related video: Trump backtracks on false claim about gag order

Jim Mattis, onetime secretary of defense for the Trump administration, described the former president as “a madman in a circular room screaming,” a new book reveals.

The revelation was made by Tom Bossert, Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser from 2017 to 2018, and published in The Situation Room: The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis.

The new book, from journalists George Stephanopolous and Lisa Dickey, discusses the history of presidential crises since John F Kennedy and is set to be published next week.

Mr Bossert told the authors that Mr Trump avoided situation room briefings because he didn’t like having to go to the room — and believed the generals should come to him, instead, according to a review by The Guardian.

“I mean, you couldn’t get Mattis into the White House,” Mr Bossert said.

Jim Mattis (left) and Donald Trump (right) at a 2018 press conference. Mr Mattis reportedly thought of Mr Trump as a ‘madman,’ a new book reveals (Getty Images)

Mr Mattis spent 43 years in the Marine Corps, and rose to commander at US Central Command before retiring in 2013 as a four-star general.

He joined the Trump administration as defense secretary in 2017 but lasted only a year, resigning over the president’s decision to remove US forces from Syria.

According toThe Atlantic he told Mr Trump: “You’re going to have to get the next secretary of defense to lose to ISIS. I’m not going to do it.”

In 2020, Mr Mattis also penned a letter to The Atlantic denouncing Mr Trump’s presidency.

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mr Mattis wrote.

“Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

In his 2020 book Rage, journalist Bob Woodward wrote that General Mattis said Mr Trump was “unfit” and “dangerous” as president and had “no moral compass”.

Mr Trump publicly denounced Mr Mattis, dubbing him “mad dog” and saying he was pleased he resigned.

“His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations,” Mr Trump said of Mr Mattis in 2020. “I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom ‘brought home the bacon.’ I didn’t like his ‘leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!”

The Situation Room also reveals that Mr Trump forced aides to create books of chyrons, the graphics that appear at the bottom of newscasts, in order to simplify the news of the day.

The authors called this “surely one of the most prosaic tasks ever required of the highly trained intelligence officers serving in the White House,” according to The Guardian.

The Independent has contacted Mr Mattis, Mr Bossert and Mr Trump’s 2024 campaign for comment.

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