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Mattis to Spicer: ‘I’m going to f—ing send you to Afghanistan,’ Woodward book says

Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Minister of Defence Song Young-moo visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea during a visit to the Joint Security Area in South Korea, Oct. 27, 2017. (US Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/Department of Defense)
September 05, 2018

In an upcoming book widely criticized by Trump Administration officials for its inaccuracies, one passage depicts Defense Secretary Jim Mattis waging a grim threat against another official.

In the book “Fear: Trump in the White House” by journalist Bob Woodward, Mattis reportedly lashed out at then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer after repeated requests for Mattis to appear on talk shows, according to a report by Business Insider on Wednesday.

“Sean, I’ve killed people for a living,” Mattis reportedly told Spicer. “If you call me again, I’m going to f–king send you to Afghanistan. Are we clear?”

Mattis was said to be disgruntled over numerous requests to appear on talk shows, which he declined each time as a result of his disdain for television appearances. He spoke of his disdain recently to reporters at a Pentagon briefing.

In 2017, Mattis made his only television show appearance on “Face of the Nation” with John Dickerson. Then, Dickerson asked Mattis: “What keeps you awake at night?” to which Mattis responded: “Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.”

Woodward’s book has been widely discussed this week for its negative portrayal of President Trump and his administration.

The book also claims that Mattis told “close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.'”

Mattis issued an official criticism of the book in a Department of Defense statement, in which he called the book’s content fictitious.

“While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility,” Mattis said in the statement.

“The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence,” he added.

“In serving in this administration, the idea that I would show contempt for the elected Commander-in-Chief, President Trump, or tolerate disrespect to the office of the President from within our Department of Defense, is a product of someone’s rich imagination,” Mattis concluded.

President Trump took to Twitter to voice his own criticisms of the book. “The Woodward book has already been refuted and discredited by General (Secretary of Defense) James Mattis and General (Chief of Staff) John Kelly. Their quotes were made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative? Notice timing?” he said.

The book also claims that Chief of Staff John Kelly called President Trump an “idiot” in private, and reportedly said in one meeting, “We’re in Crazytown,” Military Times reported.

In a statement tweeted by President Trump, Kelly said: “The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true. … This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.”

Kelly reiterated his “incredibly candid and strong relationship” with the President, a remark he made earlier in the year in response to rumors of a turbulent relationship between the two.

Woodward, who is the associate editor for The Washington Post, is notorious for covering scandals and other insider details that depict the negative side of presidencies, extending back to the Nixon Administration.