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Washington Post: Trump called top military brass in 2017 a 'bunch of dopes and babies'

Updated 4:24 PM ET, Fri January 17, 2020

Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump reprimanded his top military brass in a 2017 meeting at the Pentagon, calling them a "bunch of dopes and babies" and telling them "you're all losers," according to a forthcoming book by two Washington Post reporters.

The heated July 20, 2017 meeting has been previously reported -- including then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's response to fellow US officials, in which he said the President was a "f---ing moron." However, "A Very Stable Genius" by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker reveals more extraordinary details about the meeting, including the President's barrage of insults against his top military leadership.

Tillerson, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis and then-Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn hoped at the meeting to explain to the President about the importance of America's key alliances for national security. They were concerned that Trump's proposals were a threat to America's standing in the world, the Post reported.

Using lots of visual aids in an attempt to hold Trump's interest, the three men briefed the President on US deployments, bases and embassies around the world, and the value of trade agreements in boosting America's national security, the Post reported.

But during the briefing, at which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top military leaders were present, Trump demanded an explanation as to why the US hasn't won in Afghanistan, calling it a "loser war," according to an excerpt adapted from the book and published in The Washington Post Friday. He frequently interrupted the briefing to object to US policies, like the Iran nuclear deal and the NATO alliance, the Post reported.

"You're all losers. You don't know how to win anymore," the commander-in-chief told the meeting attendees, according to the Post's quote of the book.

From there, the President's tirade continued, with Trump telling the military officials: "I wouldn't go to war with you people."

"You're a bunch of dopes and babies," he told the room, according to the Post's excerpt.

The book claimed that those who were in the room were shocked and stunned by the President's remarks, some considered leaving the meeting, and one worried, "What would our worst adversaries think if they knew he said this?"

Attendees described Vice President Mike Pence, who was also in the meeting, as silent, "frozen like a statue" and "a wax museum guy" during Trump's lashing out, according to the book excerpt.

Tillerson, however, spoke up: "Mr. President, you're totally wrong. None of that is true."

According to the Post's excerpt, after the meeting ended and Trump left, Tillerson told a group of confidantes, "He's a f---ing moron," a now-infamous comment first reported in 2017 by NBC News.

One senior official quoted in the book said of the briefing, "not only did it not have the intended effect, but he dug in his heels and pushed it even further on the spectrum, further solidifying his views."

Tillerson was fired in March 2018. Mattis resigned in December 2018 on the heels of Trump's plans to withdraw troops from Syria. In his resignation letter, Mattis said the President deserved a defense chief more closely aligned with his "America First" views, and he touted the importance of US alliances. Cohn resigned in March 2018 after a disagreement with Trump over steel and aluminum tariffs.


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