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Watch Andrea Mitchell Try and Repeatedly Fail to Get Mattis to Criticize Trump: ‘I’m Going to Frustrate You’

MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell peppered off a series of questions to former Defense Secretary James Mattis that all seemed designed to get him to rip President Donald Trump.

For every question in his interview on MSNBC — as part of a book tour — Mattis declined to directly critique Trump and instead spoke discursively about various subjects like leadership and reading books.

Here are some of the topics Mitchell desperately tried to get Mattis to dish on — and all the evasive responses that the general provided.

1. Mattis on the televised meeting where every Cabinet official praised Trump to his face.

Mitchell first noted that Mattis was among the few Cabinet officials who did not directly praise Trump during an on-camera meeting in 2017. Mattis instead praised the U.S. military.

“What was going through your mind that day?” Mitchell asked.

“The Defense Department, going back to George Washington’s day, has been an apolitical organization. It ranks highest in the American’s people’s confidence as far as the institutions of government,” Mattis said. “So I wanted to just highlight that that day. That’s why I came back into government when I was asked. And that’s all I was representing that day.”

“There was nothing deeper to it,” he said.

2. Mattis on Trump firing Rex Tillerson via Twitter.

“Speaking again of leadership, how did you feel when your cabinet ally and colleague, Rex Tillerson, was fired on Twitter?” Mitchell asked.

“Rex Tillerson is as patriotic and as competent and as committed and devoted American and public servant as there was anywhere. At the same time we serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States,” Mattis said. “I’m confident the Secretary of State didn’t take it personally. Simply Washington, D.C. Business as usual.”

3. Mattis on Trump allegedly not reading books.

Mitchell brought up how Mattis writes about reading in his book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.

“Reading doesn’t give you all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead. Your personal library has thousands, thousands, 7,000 books in it. What does it say about a chief executive who does not read?” Mitchell asked.

“Andrea, I’m going to frustrate you here,” Mattis responded. Mitchell then said she was asking about the importance of reading in general.

“I think anytime you have a leadership team and that’s what the president and his cabinet are, or in a corporation the CEO and the board of directors, you have to have people with strengths and weaknesses. I know I’m not strong in all the reason I read is to buttress my weak areas frankly,” Mattis said.

Watch above, via MSNBC.

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