Repeated attempts last week by MSNBC talking head Andrew Mitchell to prod former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis into trash-talking President Donald Trump failed spectacularly.
During an interview last Thursday with the former Marine Corps general turned defense secretary turned newfound author, Mitchell continuously tried to steer Mattis into criticizing the president’s domestic and foreign policy decisions. But in almost each instance, he refused to engage, instead preferring to maintain the same stoic professionalism that’s defined his entire career.
Except for one instance in which he, surprisingly enough, came out in defense of the president by pointing out that his aggressive NATO policies have been a boon to the United States. Watch him note this point below, and pay attention to Mitchell’s momentary daze and speechlessness:
“Aren’t our alliances now weaker than they were when you took office?” Mitchell asked.
That’s called a loaded question, since it presumes the answer before an answer is even provided.
“Well, I don’t think I can quantify that,” Mattis initially replied.
“I don’t mean you personally, but in the last two and a half years, we’ve seen our alliances weakened in NATO. Certainly in Asia and in Europe,” the MSNBC-grade “journalist” pressed.
“You know, Andrea, if you take a look at current events you can always see the tensions because that’s what grabs your attention, is the tensions in those alliances,” Mattis fired back. “However, right now you see a NATO — I think we’re into the fourth straight year or fifth straight year of the nations, almost all of them, increasing their defense budget. So I could quantitatively say NATO’s actually stronger today.”
He continued, “Now, there are political tensions. Those tensions have always been there in NATO, where the American presidents – I remember all the way back to President Clinton when I became aware of this issue – President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama all saying the same thing President Trump is, ‘You’ve got to pay more.'”
“The way I carried the message to NATO when I first went there as the secretary of defense was, ‘I’ve sat in this room, and you’ve heard this message before, but the American people are saying they will not care more about your children’s future than you care,” Mattis added. “You’ve got to pay your fair share.”
A similar response was offered after Mitchell tried to prod Mattis into bashing the president’s recent decision to divert military funds into construction of the southern U.S. border wall.
“We’ve now got — our reporting is that 127 military projects that were supposed to be underway and also including daycare centers,” the MSNBC “journalist” complained. “Daycare centers at Joint Base Andrews are having the money that was appropriated by Congress taken away.”
“How is that appropriate?” she asked in exasperation. “I mean, it’s taking money away from military families. People that whose service you know and admire and treasure.”
See Mattis’s reply below:
“Well, the military exists to defend the country,” he replied.
Mitchell pushed back.
“Aren’t you creating a new problem when you spend money, billions of dollars to build a wall that arguably isn’t needed to fulfill a campaign promise and take money away from daycare for military families?” the “journalist” asked without citing any evidence to back her assertion.
“Yeah, Andrea, having left the administration and laid out in writing and straightforward manner with the president, before I left, that I was leaving on policy differences, I believe in an old French saying of ‘devoir de réserve,’ a period of silence,” Mattis said at first.
“I know you don’t want to discuss it, but I know you care about the troops and their families,” Mitchell continued prodding.
“Well, we all care about the troops,” a seemingly frustrated Mattis replied. “And I think that’s true about Republicans, Democrats, that’s true about the White House and the executive — and the legislative branch.”
“But I think what we need to do in this case is recognize that trust — whenever you’re in a leadership position — is the coin of the realm,” he continued. “And you build trust by talking with one another and coming up with beneficial solutions.”
“And we spent so long in this country dividing into different camps that it’s almost as if we can’t take a true crisis situation at the border,” Mattis added. “I mean, look at the pictures on your network that come back from the border. But we’ve not agreed on how to solve it. It’s as if we’re always staying in this divide and conquer role of elections, I would call it, instead of the governing role of how are we going to solve these problems.”
For the better part of 2019, MSNBC and other mainstream networks denied that there’s even a border crisis, treating it as just a “manufactured crisis.” Not until The New York Times ran a bombshell report describing the crisis in detail did these same talking heads suddenly perform an about-face.
Watch the full interview with Mattis below.
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