Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis might have played a role in preventing the United States from getting into a war with North Korea by ignoring orders from the White House, according to a new report.
Included in a lengthy The New Yorker profile of National Security Adviser John Bolton were claims Mattis tried to limit which information President Donald Trump was given — possibly to stop him from making rash decisions.
In the fall of 2017, for example, Bolton's predecessor H.R. McMaster was trying to organize a summit to be held at Camp David with Trump, his aides, and representatives from the Pentagon to plan military options for dealing with North Korea. The idea, however, never got out off the ground because Mattis failed to send Pentagon personnel to the White House for summit planning meetings.
"He prevented the thing from happening," a former senior Trump administration official told The New Yorker.
"There are a lot of people in the administration who want to limit the president's options because they don't want the president to get anything done."
A former national security official, meanwhile, told the outlet it appears Trump often says things that can be construed as thoughts.
"The president thinks out loud," the official said. "Do you treat it like an order? Or do you treat it as part of a longer conversation? We treated it as part of a longer conversation. . . . We prevented a lot of bad things from happening."
Mattis, who resigned in December after Trump decided to withdraw the military from Syria, was also opposed to another 2017 idea to withdraw the military from Afghanistan and Syria. Trump thought McMaster was stalling, which led to an "animated discussion" between McMaster and Mattis at the White House, a source told The New Yorker.
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