President Trump lashed out at top military brass in a contentious Pentagon meeting in 2017, slamming them as “dopes” and “babies,” according to an excerpt of a forthcoming book.
The broadside occurred at a meeting in the so-called Tank, a prominent meeting room in the Pentagon, according to an excerpt from “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America” written by The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
The journalists reported that attendees at the meeting included the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Vice President Pence and other military and Cabinet officials.
The meeting was intended as a “tailored tutorial” for Trump to help prime him on the United States’s alliances and international strategies, the pair wrote. However, after berating the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and the war in Afghanistan, the president reportedly lashed out at his top advisers.
“I want to win,” he said, according to the excerpt. “I wouldn’t go to war with you people.”
“You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”
According to the book, Tillerson was enraged with the comment, while Mattis and Pence remained silent.
“No, that’s just wrong,” said the former secretary of State, whose father and uncle had both been combat veterans. “Mr. President, you’re totally wrong. None of that is true.”
“The men and women who put on a uniform don’t do it to become soldiers of fortune,” he added. “That’s not why they put on a uniform and go out and die … They do it to protect our freedom.”
The relationship between Tillerson and Trump suffered irreparable damage after the exchange, according to the book. It was shortly after the president left the meeting that Tillerson reportedly made the now-famous remark of calling Trump a “moron.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on Friday about the book excerpt.
Trump has often railed against America’s past foreign policy, lambasting prior administrations for entanglements abroad, not pressuring allies to contribute more to shared defense and not forcing other countries with U.S. military bases to pay for protection.
Still, Trump often touts the armed forces in public appearances and regularly references “my generals” when discussing top figures in his administration with military experience.