Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security MORE on Thursday called it “ludicrous” that some took his recent comments on North Korea as contradicting President Trump.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that the United States “has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!"
Mattis replied when asked later that the United States is “never out of diplomatic solutions.”
Mattis was speaking to reporters prior to meeting with South Korea's defense minister at the Pentagon and was asked about the commander in chief’s comments and whether they ruled out a diplomatic solution to North Korea's ongoing missile tests.
“I was asked if there were any diplomatic efforts left, and I said, ‘of course,’ " Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday. “Diplomatic can include economic sanctions, United Nations, not just talking — it didn't contradict anything the president said. We're not talking to the North Koreans right now.”
When a reporter pressed that the remark was "widely interpreted" as contradicting Trump, Mattis replied, "It was widely misinterpreted then."
He added, "I can't help people who misinterpret things. I'll do my best to call it like I see it, but right now if I say ‘six’ and the president says ‘half-a-dozen,’ they're gonna say I disagree with him."