President Donald Trump erupted during a briefing intended to teach him the basic fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy — and essentially ended any hope that he would ever learn them.
Six months into his presidency, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were frustrated and alarmed by the gaps in Trump’s knowledge of world affairs, and they scheduled a Pentagon briefing to catch him up, reported the Washington Post.
The July 20, 2017, meeting has been reported before, but the new book “A Very Stable Genius,” by the Post‘s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, offers new details about the meeting and Trump’s reaction to the presentation.
“Oh, baby, this is going to be f*cking wild,” Steve Bannon, then White House chief strategist, thought as Mattis explained the NATO alliance. “If you stood up and threatened to shoot [Trump], he couldn’t say ‘postwar rules-based international order.’ It’s just not the way he thinks.”
Trump was quickly aggravated by the presentation — which featured charts and graphics, punctuated with dollar signs — and repeatedly interrupted to alleviate his apparent boredom, said others who took part in the meeting.
“We are owed money you haven’t been collecting!” Trump complained as top officials explained foreign alliances. “You would totally go bankrupt if you had to run your own business.”
Trump seemed preoccupied with voiding President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which he called “the worst deal in history,” and blew up when Tillerson started to explain why it was effective.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Trump said. “They’re cheating, they’re building. We’re getting out of it. I keep telling you, I keep giving you time, and you keep delaying me. I want out of it.”
Trump then moved on to Afghanistan, which he called a “loser war” to the shock and horror of military officials who’d fought there.
“You’re all losers,” Trump said. “You don’t know how to win anymore.”
The president then asked why the U.S. didn’t get oil in exchange for stationing troops in the Persian Gulf.
“We spent $7 trillion; they’re ripping us off,” Trump yelled. “Where is the f*cking oil?”
“The American people are saying we can’t spend a trillion dollars a year on this,” he complained. “We just can’t. It’s going to bankrupt us.”
By that point, according to the book, Trump had worked himself into a lather, insulting individual military leaders and breathlessly ranting.
“I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump brayed. “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”
Others in the room felt sick to their stomach by the president’s tirade and one woman was seen crying, and only Tillerson spoke up to defend the military — and he famously wrote off Trump after the meeting, speaking to others as the room emptied.
“He’s a f*cking moron,” the secretary of state said.