President Donald Trump made an admission this week during a Fox News Channel interview that appeared to differ from his prior account of an alleged assassination plot.
The president appeared on Fox & Friends on Tuesday, confirming that if he had his way, Syrian President Bashar Assad would have been killed in 2017, as reported by Just the News.
“Nor would it be contemplated”
Although now three-year-old news, the issue is making headlines again as yet more fallout from Fear, the first book about the Trump administration by Bob Woodward.
The veteran journalist is in the news amid claims made in his most recent book, Rage.
Assad, linked to a chemical attack in 2017, was targeted for possible assassination as one of multiple potential responses by the Trump administration, Woodward wrote in his earlier book. The author claimed that the president wanted then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis to take Assad out. At that time, however, Trump denied the allegation.
“No, that was never even contemplated, nor would it be contemplated and it should not have been written about in the book,” the president said.
He clarified, if not recanted, that earlier claim this week.
“Mattis didn’t want to do it”
“I would’ve rather taken him out,” Trump told the Fox & Friends hosts. “I had him all set. Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general.”
In the end, he said he “could have lived either way” and left the final decision to the defense secretary.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry reacted to the latest development with a statement denouncing Trump and citing his own words as supposed evidence of his corruption, as reported by CBS News.
In the statement released on Wednesday, the ministry asserted that the president’s admission is evidence “that the U.S. administration is a rogue and outlaw state, and is pursuing the same methods of terrorist organizations, with murder and assassination, without taking into account any legal, humanitarian or moral controls or rules in order to achieve its interests in the region.”
As representatives of a regime accused of using chemical weapons against its own people, however, it remains to be seen how much success Syrian officials will have in attempting to claim the moral high ground.