Defense Secretary Jim Mattis isn’t the most well-known “Trump whisperer” in the White House, but new reporting claims he has one weird trick to get his way with President Donald Trump.
In a Wall Street Journal report on the methods various administration aides have used to communicate with the president, Mattis’ savvy technique is explained.
When discussing methods to exert non-military pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump reportedly had a novel idea: “If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong Un’s behavior.”
Staffers close to the conversation told the Journal that Mattis “says, ‘Your instincts are absolutely correct,’ and then gets him [the president] to do the exact opposite of what his instincts say.”
“Mr. Trump dropped the idea,” the report continued, “although he has ordered aides to give the exercises a low profile, eliminating press releases and briefings about them.”
The report also explained that the ex-real estate mogul appreciated “frankness,” even from detractors like Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD).
“Most black people are doing pretty good. We have people struggling to make ends meet, but that’s insulting,” Cummings once told the president after the latter disparaged black communities as crime-ridden. “Probably nobody has ever told you that.”
“You’re right,” Trump reportedly told him. “Nobody has ever told me that.”