Mattis Gave A Remarkable Response When Asked Why He Continues To Serve Trump

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence depart the Pentagon following a meeting of the National Security Council in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2017.
Photo via DoD

Secretary of Defense James Mattis had an interesting answer when asked why he continues to serve under President Donald Trump, who has at times made major policy changes without even talking to him about it.

Trump's behavior has led some to quit advising his administration, like the various business leaders who left after the president's comments on Charlottesville. But that's not Mattis.

Kevin Baron, the executive editor at Defense One, asked Mattis on Aug. 31 why he doesn't quit, and why he serves. Here's what he told him:

You know, when a president of the United States asks you to do something — I don't think it's an old-fashioned school — I don't think it's old fashioned or anything. I don't care if it's a Republican or Democrat, we all have an obligation to serve. That's all there is to it. And so, you serve.

Mattis knows plenty about service: He served as a Marine Corps officer for 41 years, ending his career in 2013 as a four-star general leading U.S. Central Command. He retired and took on teaching roles at Stanford and Dartmouth until he was asked to serve once again by Trump earlier this year.

"First time I met with President Trump, we disagreed on three things in my first 40 minutes with him, on NATO, no torture, and on something else, and he hired me. This is not a man who is immune to being persuaded if he thinks you've got an argument. Anyway, press on."

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump advocated to reinstitute torture tactics against enemy combatants. But in his first meeting with Mattis in November, the general was able to change his mind in under an hour.

"'He said, "I've never found it to be useful,"' Trump told The New York Times, describing Mattis' view of torturing terrorism suspects. Instead, Mattis argued that it was better to build rapport and reward cooperation during interrogations, adding a quip: '"Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I'll do better."'

More from Business Insider:


It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.

It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.

"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.

Read More Show Less

An Air Force Special Tactics combat controller that "delivered thousands of pounds of munition" during a close-range 2007 firefight in Afghanistan was awarded the Silver Star on Friday.

Read More Show Less

ROCKFORD — Delta Force sniper Sgt. First Class James P. McMahon's face was so badly battered and cut, "he looked like he was wearing a fright mask" as he stood atop a downed Black Hawk helicopter and pulled free the body of a fellow soldier from the wreckage.

That's the first description of McMahon in the book by journalist Mark Bowden called "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War." It is a detailed account of the horrific Battle of the Black Sea fought in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. It claimed the lives of 18 elite American soldiers.

Read More Show Less

The July arrests of 16 Camp Pendleton Marines in front of their 800-person battalion was unlawful and a violation of their rights, a Marine Corps judge ruled Friday.

Read More Show Less

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.

"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.

"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."

The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.

On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

Read More Show Less