Former Defense Secretary James Mattis “prevented a lot of bad things from happening” by refusing to carry out orders from President Trump relating to escalating tensions in North Korea, Syria and Iran, The New Yorker reported Monday.
“The president thinks out loud. 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,” a former senior national security official told The New Yorker.
“We prevented a lot of bad things from happening,” the official added.
An administration official told the magazine that Mattis ignored Trump’s 2017 Pentagon order to begin removing the spouses and children of military personnel from South Korea, where the U.S. military has a base, following a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests. “Mattis just ignored” the order, the official said.
In another instance in the fall of 2017, Mattis allegedly stopped a gathering of White House officials who were planning a private meeting at Camp David to develop military options for a possible conflict with North Korea. Mattis allegedly stopped the gathering from happening by ignoring a request from then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster to send officers and planners, according to a former senior administration official.
Mattis resigned from his Pentagon position last December, one day after Trump announced that he would withdraw troops from Syria, a decision Mattis opposed.