US President Donald Trump has claimed he wanted to “take out” Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2017 but was deterred by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis – after previously denying an assassination was even discussed.
“I would have rather taken [Assad] out,” Trump told Fox & Friends on Tuesday, insisting “I had him all set,” but “Mattis didn’t want to do it.”
The admission flies in the face of Trump’s 2018 claim during a White House briefing that the suggestion of killing Assad was “never even discussed.” Journalist Bob Woodward reported in his 2018 book Fear that Trump was itching to have the Syrian leader assassinated after an alleged chemical weapons attack in 2017 – a claim Trump denounced as “total fiction.”
During the Fox & Friends interview, however, Trump said it was Mattis who stayed his hand, calling the ‘Mad Dog’ general “highly overrated” even as he claimed he didn’t regret not having Assad killed.
I could’ve lived either way with [the proposed assassination]. But I had a shot to take him out if I wanted, and Mattis was against it.
“Mattis was against most of that stuff,” Trump told the channel.
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