“Do you think he’s a liar?” asked Martha Raddatz, the co-host of ABC’s This Week.
McChrystal raised his eyebrows, shook his head, and responded, “I don’t think he tells the truth.” When Raddatz asked whether McChrystal considers the president “immoral,” the former general replied, “I think he is.”
Read: Do presidential visits to combat zones offer leaders any insights, or boost morale for troops?
McChrystal’s comments came about 10 days after Trump’s announcement via Twitter that he’s planning to withdraw 2,200 U.S. troops from Syria. The abrupt decision prompted Mattis’s resignation with a public letter, in which the former general cited differences between himself and the president over “treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors.” In the interview, McChrystal told Raddatz he hopes Mattis’s exit has caused the American public to “take a pause.”
“If we have someone who is as selfless and committed as Jim Mattis resigning his position, walking away from all the responsibility he feels for every service member in our forces, and he does so in a public way like that, we ought to stop and say, ‘Okay, why did he do it?’” McChrystal said. “We ought to ask what kind of commander in chief he had that Jim Mattis, ‘the good Marine,’ felt he had to walk away.”
McChrystal also echoed recent criticism of Trump’s holiday visit to troops serving in Iraq. During the stop, his first trip to a combat zone since he assumed office in early 2017, Trump made a campaign-style speech in which he talked up his plans for expanding the border wall and disparaged his political opponents, claiming that “Democrats don’t want to let us have strong borders.”
“When leaders visit soldiers … there’s a sacred interaction that occurs,” McChrystal said. “You don’t use that as a time to tout your politics or your personal opinions. You use that as a time to reassure them that what they’re doing is appreciated.” He also chided service members who brought Trump paraphernalia to the event—including “Make America Great Again” hats and a Trump 2020 patch—saying that they at least “violated the spirit” of military rules against political activity while serving on active duty.
Read: Everything’s political to Trump, even killing Osama bin Laden
McChrystal is not the only ex-military leader to recently rebuke Trump. William McRaven, the retired admiral who oversaw special operations—including the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed—criticized the president for attacking the media and pulling the security clearance of a former CIA chief who spoke out against him. In an interview last month, Trump dismissed McRaven as a “Hillary Clinton fan” and questioned why it took nearly a decade to find bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. McChrystal sprang to McRaven’s defense the next day, calling the president “simply wrong” and “uninformed.”