2020-01-17 18:40:35 UTC
*Dramatic details of how Donald Trump ranted against his most senior generals is
revealed in new book
*He spewed abuse at meeting chaired by Marine General Joe Dunford, Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying: 'You're all losers'
*Sitting beside combat veteran Dunford was his deputy Paul Selva, a four star
air force general who flew transport aircraft
*He accused one general who was not present - John Nicholson, in charge of
combat in Afghanistan - of not knowing how to win
*Book claims he could barely breathe as he vented with rage, demanding South
Korea pay for U.S. military bases
*Rex Tillerson, then Secretary of State, whose family included career officers,
intervened to shut Trump down
*He accused Trump of wanting to turn U.S. forces into mercenaries and said they
don't join up 'to make a buck,' saying: They do it to protect our freedom.'
*After Trump stormed out of the room Tillerson - the son of a combat veteran -
turned to the group and called him a 'f***ing moron'
Donald Trump, shortly into his presidency, unleashed a wave a fury upon his
military advisers and national security team, calling them 'dopes and babies'
who he wouldn't go to war with, a new book revealed.
'You're all losers,' Trump told an assembled group of military brass and cabinet
officials during a security briefing at the Pentagon. 'You don't know how to win
The details are revealed in, 'A Very Stable Genius' a 417-page book on the
presidency by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig being
published next week.
The Washington Post printed an excerpt on Friday.
'I wouldn't go to war with you people,' he said. 'You're a bunch of dopes and
The president was reacting to a tailored tutorial his then officials - Secretary
of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - arranged for him in room 2E924 of the
Pentagon - know as 'The Tank.'
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., was in the main
seat, in front of a painting of Lincoln meeting with his generals Ulysses S.
Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter.
Around the table were then deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the heads of the branches of the military and Vice
President Mike Pence.
The room was lined with other staff officers and White House aides. They
included Sean Spicer, then press secretary, Jared Kushner, the president's
son-in-law, and Reince Priebus, then chief of staff.
The sit-down took place six months into the Trump administration. Mattis
organized it because of mounting concerns he shared with Tillerson and Gary
Cohn, then the chief economic adviser, about Trump's knowledge of history, and
in particular post-war alliances.
It started with Mattis giving a presentation in front of a screen saying: 'The
post-war international rules-based order is the greatest gift of the greatest
Steve Bannon, then one of Trump's most senior adviser was sitting behind the
table and told the authors he thought the meeting would be 'f***ing wild.'
'If you stood up and threatened to shoot [Trump], he couldnt say "postwar
rules-based international order,"' he told them.
It was the start of an extended rage.
He railed against General John Nicholson, in charge of U.S. forces in
Afghanistan, saying: 'I don't think he knows how to win.'
The general was not at the meeting and Dunford tried to defend him, saying they
were following orders on how to leave Afghanistan.
The authors say the participants 'felt sick to their stomachs' at the
president's words. Tillerson later said he saw one female officer silently
During the meeting, Trump complained Pentagon brass were missing opportunities
to make money.
'We are owed money you haven't been collecting!' the president said, according
to the book. 'You would totally go bankrupt if you had to run your own
He asked why Middle East nations weren't giving the U.S. oil in return for
'We spent $7 trillion; they're ripping us off,' Trump said. 'Where is the
He said of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, from which he would later withdraw the
United States: 'It's the worst deal in history!'
Tillerson tried to talk to him about that. 'I don't want to hear it,' the
'They're cheating. They're building. We're getting out of it. I keep telling
you, I keep giving you time, and you keep delaying me. I want out of it.'
As the president complained about how the United States should make money from
American troops - he suggested South Korea pay for the U.S. soldiers there or
he'd remove them - Tillerson spoke up.
His father and uncle both saw combat and a great-uncle was a career officer.
'No, that's just wrong,' the authors quote him as telling Trump. '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,' Tillerson added. 'That's not why they put on a uniform and go out and
die. They do it to protect our freedom.'
Throughout it all Mike Pence sat beside Trump without any expression on his
face. One participant called him 'a wax museum guy.' His son is a commissioned
Shortly after that the meeting ended.
After Trump left the room, Tillerson spoke up again: 'He's a f***ing moron,' he
said of Trump.
In contrast Trump said tersely to reporters that the meeting was 'absolutely
great' and when asked if he was going to make a decision on cutting troop
numbers in Afghanistan brushed it off saying: 'You'll be hearing.'
Then he tweeted a video of himself and Pence shaking hands with members of the
military in the Pentagon, with the audio cut to make way for 'I'm proud to be an
American.' Mattis was only fleetingly visible.
Tillerson was to attack Trump again on the issue of foreign allies paying for
U.S. military presence on their territory at a White House Situation Room
meeting where Trump demanded money.
Tillerson stood up, turned his back on the president, and turned to uniformed
officers and other staff to say how the country valued their service and knew
'they don't do it to make a buck.'
In March the following year, Tillerson was fired while he was on a diplomatic
tour of Africa.
In December 2018 Mattis quit over Trump's sudden decision to pull out of Syria
and released a letter saying he 'deserved' a Pentagon chief who agreed with him
but would serve until he was replaced. Trump made him leave almost immediately.
Dunford served the standard four-years as chair
The book details the president's first three years in the White House and all
the drama that filled that time, including special counsel Robert Mueller's
It is scheduled to be released on January 21. The two authors were part of The
Washington Post's team that won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on Trump