Trump Suggests Waterboarding Is Torture, Will Defer Decision To Mattis

President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, stand in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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President Donald Trump suggested that waterboarding is torture Friday, despite hedging on defining it in those terms in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday night.

When asked about his stance on torture during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump said that he differs with his Defense Secretary James Mattis on the use of waterboarding, seeming to define the act as torture.

“We have a great general who has just been appointed secretary of defense, General James Mattis,” Trump said. “He has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding or however you want to define it, enhanced interrogation, I guess would be words that a lot of people like to use. I don’t necessarily agree.”

Trump said that though he may feel that waterboarding is effective, he will defer to Mattis to make decisions on that matter.

“I would tell you he will override because I am giving him that power. He is an expert. He is highly respected,” Trump said.

“So I’m going to rely on him,” he continued. “I happen to feel that it does work. I have been open about that for a long period of time. But I am going with our leaders. And we’re going to win with or without. But, I do disagree.”

Trump’s dialogue about enhanced interrogation has been a rocky one. He often advocated for waterboarding on the campaign trail, drawing ire from many politicians and military experts including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was a prisoner of war.

Trump has said on several occasions that he will defer to Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to make the decision on torture, but as recently as Thursday night he insisted waterboarding is not a big deal and that it is effective.

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