President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he had Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad lined up for assassination but was talked out of it by his former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Trump made the admission when he called into 'Fox & Friends,' confirming reporting from Bob Woodward's first book on his administration, 'Fear,' which was released two years ago, that Trump wanted to take out al-Assad after he used chemical weapons on his people in April 2017.
'I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set. Mattis didn't want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general. And I let him go,' Trump Tuesday.
According to Woodward's 2018 book 'Fear,' the commander-in-chief called Mattis to give the order and said: 'Let's f***ing kill him! Let's go in. Let's kill the f***ing lot of them.'
Mattis agreed to the president's face and then had aides prepare a plan to strike al-Assad's resources in a 'much more measured' way, Woodward wrote. That was what happened, with airstrikes by cruise missile against limited targets.
Trump said on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning when he called in, 'I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set. Mattis didn't want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general. And I let him go'
Trump wanted to assassinate al-Assad (pictured) after he used chemical weapons on Syrians in April 2017. Trump said Tuesday he didn't regret not taking the change, though he called al-Assad 'certainly not a good person'
Trump denied in 2018 that an assassination of al-Assad was ever planned.
'No, that was never even contemplated, nor would it be contemplated,' he said then.
Killing a world leader would have been a first for the U.S. in any form, although in March 2003, the first airstrikes on Iraq were targeted at a compound in Baghdad after a false intelligence report that Saddam Hussein was present.
It would have shattered relations with Russia, who have seen Assad as a key ally and continue to do so.
Mattis spoke to Woodward for the journalist's new book, 'Rage,' released Tuesday, prompting the question on Fox & Friends about the claim in his previous book about Mattis' reaction to the order to kill Assad.
'Rage' contains quotes from the ex-DOD chief where he describes the president as 'dangerous,' 'unfit' and with 'no moral compass.'
Trump said on 'Fox & Friends' that he fired Mattis, although the general told Woodward that he quit in December 2018 'when I was basically directed to do something that I thought went beyond stupid to felony stupid.' That 'something' was an order to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.
After he left the administration, he and Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence, discussed whether they should take 'collective action' and come out publicly against Trump.
During his Tuesday talk with 'Fox & Friends' hosts, Trump went off on Mattis calling him a 'terrible general' and a 'bad leader.'
'And he wasn't doing the job with ISIS. He was not doing the job with Syria or Iraq with respect to ISIS. I got rid of ISIS after he was gone. I did a great job with ISIS, 100 per cent of the caliphate,' Trump boasted.
The president was referring to his former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who talked to Woodward for the jouralist's new book and said that Trump was 'dangerous,' 'unfit' and with 'no moral compass'
The president said he didn't regret not killing al-Assad in April 2017.
'I would have lived either way with that,' Trump said, noting that the Syrian dictator is 'certainly not a good person.'
But, Trump continued, 'Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of that stuff.'
'He would keep you in military, but he didn't know how to win,' Trump said. 'He had no concept as to win.'
Trump's attempted order to kill Assad was issued after a chemical gas attack - suspected of being sarin nerve agent - on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, which led to the agonizing deaths of 86 people including at least 27 children.
Harrowing footage showed adults and children staggering through the town's streets, foam pouring from their mouths as they fought to breathe.
He said: 'Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children.
'It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.
'No child of God should ever suffer such horror.'
Speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate, he added: 'There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN security council.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more