The former secretary of defense who offered up his resignation amid a difference of opinion battle with President Trump on Syria carefully indicated that there would come a day when he will speak freely about his experience working with Trump.
In an interview published in the Atlantic on Thursday, Mattis said he owed the Trump administration “silence,” telling the interviewer he adheres to a French adage — “devoir de réserve,” the “duty of silence” — in order to protect the President from any harm.
“The duty of silence. If you leave an administration, you owe some silence. When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. They still have the responsibility of protecting this great big experiment of ours,” he said. “I know the malevolence some people feel for this country, and we have to give the people who are protecting us some time to carry out their duties without me adding my criticism to the cacophony that is right now so poisonous.”
Later on in the interview, which took place over the course of the summer, ahead of the release of his new book, “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead,” Mattis made it clear that he has no intention of staying quiet on President Trump and his tumultuous time in the administration forever.
“There is a period in which I owe my silence,” he said. “It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever.”