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Mattis discussed ‘collective action’ to deal with ‘dangerous’ Trump, new book says

President Donald Trump, right, speaks at a reception commemorating the 35th anniversary of attack on the Beirut Barracks, joined by Secretary of Defense James Mattis in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 25, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Sipa USA/TNS)
September 10, 2020

Former Secretary of Defense Gen. Jim Mattis told then-Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats that “there may come a time when we have to take collective action” to deal with President Donald Trump, according to a forthcoming book by journalist Bob Woodward, titled “Rage.”

According to an excerpt of Woodward’s book, reported by the Washington Post, Mattis at one point went to Washington National Cathedral to pray about the nation’s future under President Trump and according to Woodward, Mattis told Coats “There may come a time when we have to take collective action” because he viewed Trump as “dangerous” and “unfit.”

In the excerpt, Woodward does not define what “collective action” means.

In a separate conversation between Mattis and Coats, Woodward writes Mattis told Coats, “The president has no moral compass,” to which Coats replied, “True. To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”

Woodward’s forthcoming book “Rage” is set to be released next week. The book details the inner workings of President Donald Trump’s presidency and controversial decisions he has made in office in the past two years of his term. The book serves as the sequel to his first on the Trump presidency, titled “Fear: Trump in the White House.”

Woodward’s book is based in part on 18 on-the-record conversations with Trump between December 2019 and July 2020 and many other on-the-record and anonymous sources providing background.

According to the Washington Post, Mattis, Coats and others provided “brutal assessments” of Trump from their time working in his administration.

Mattis left the administration at the end of 2018, following Trump’s call to withdraw U.S. troops deployed in Syria. Mattis had previously been steadfast in his refusal to disparage Trump following his departure from the administration but Mattis has increasingly spoken out against the Commander-in-Chief.

Mattis, among other things, has said Trump was using divisive tactics to stop civil unrest following the death of Goerge Floyd and said Trump made a “mockery of our constitution” after riot police cleared protesters out of Lafayette Square near the White House.

Woodward’s book also describes Trump’s efforts to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and gets into the details surrounding Trump’s thinking.

The book also highlights an interview he had more recently in Trump’s time in office, on March 19, when Trump described his initial efforts to handle the coronavirus outbreak. In an audio recording of Trump’s interview with Woodward, Trump reacted to new information he had learned in recent days about the age of some people affected by the coronavirus and described deliberately minimizing concerns early on about the virus outbreak because he didn’t want to cause a panic.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward. “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s comments during a Wednesday press briefing saying, “At a time when you’re facing insurmountable challenges, it’s important to express confidence, it’s important to express calm.”

McEnany noted Trump, speaking from the podium days later on March 30th, said “I do want them to stay calm” in regards to how Americans view the coronavirus.

In a Wednesday interview with Fox News, Dr. Anthony Fauci also said he “didn’t get any sense [Trump] was distorting anything” with regards to internal White House discussions about the coronavirus and Trump’s later public statements.

“When we would get up in front of the press conferences, which were very, very common after our discussions with the president, he really didn’t say anything different than we discussed when we were with him,” Fauci said. “I may not be tuned in to the right thing that they’re talking about. But, I didn’t see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him, and what he came out publicly and said.”