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Mattis Defends McCain When Asked About Trump’s Attacks: Always Acted in America’s Best Interests

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis defended John McCain’s legacy after being asked about President Donald Trump’s attacks against the late senator during a Wednesday interview.

“The comments the president made about John McCain in the campaign that he wasn’t a hero, that I didn’t like the guy, he always spoke his mind. What did you think of that back and forth?” Fox Business host Neil Cavuto asked the Marine general, who appeared on his program to promote his new book.

While Mattis, who announced his resignation from the administration in December due to fundamental policy differences with the president, did not call out Trump by name, he replied by insisting that Americans have to stop being “hard on each other.”

“McCain obviously was a friend. I had known him for many years, testified in front of his committee many times,” he said. “He lit into me many times — always in the best interests of our country. It was never personal. We would shake hands afterwards, say, ‘Boy I really got you that time.'”

“There was no need to personalize it,” Mattis added. “We need to get back in this country to a fundamental friendliness, respecting each other, accepting that I may disagree 100 percent with you, but you may also be right … We have to get away from these tribes that bring out bad comments about each other.”

Earlier in the interview, Cavuto asked Mattis about Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and if he saw the Kremlin leader as an enemy or friend of the U.S.

“I do not think Vladimir Putin has one positive thought about the United States,” he responded. “I don’t praise him. I was not elected by the American people, so I don’t presume to be speaking for the American people but no, I don’t praise him one bit.”

Watch above, via Fox Business.

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Caleb Ecarma was a reporter at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter here: @calebecarma