The Atlantic

The Woodward Book Comes for James Mattis

A veteran Washington journalist describes the defense secretary as avoiding confrontation and showing respect. But the rest of the book may have blown up that strategy.
Source: Brian Snyder / Reuters

James Mattis has long distinguished himself as a canny survivor in Donald Trump’s shape-shifting inner circle, somehow managing to remain firmly entrenched at the Pentagon as fellow advisers such as Rex Tillerson and H. R. McMaster vanished into the vortex that is Trump’s bad side. Then Bob Woodward wrote a book. Now the defense secretary and retired four-star general has been thrust directly into the political maelstrom he’s so studiously avoided.

Excerpts from the journalist’s forthcoming account of Trump’s White House, first Tuesday in , portray Mattis as scornful of the president’s intellect and judgment, and, in a boost to an , as a vital check against the president’s dangerous instincts. Woodward depicts an agitated Mattis explaining to Trump in a meeting that the United States maintains a military presence on the Korean peninsula and have denied this account.)

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