Fox News anchor Ed Henry cornered White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley into a trap of his own making on Thursday when the veteran host repeatedly grilled the flack on President Donald Trump’s attacks on his former Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis.
Mattis, who resigned in late 2018 over Trump’s Syria policy, issued a strong rebuke on Wednesday of the president’s “bizarre photo op” at St. John’s Episcopal Church, calling it “an abuse of executive authority” and an example of Trump’s “deliberate effort” to divide Americans. The president, meanwhile, responded by falsely claiming he fired Mattis, calling him “the most overrated general.”
During an interview on America’s Newsroom, Gidley was asked to weigh in on the “war of words” between Trump and his former cabinet official. The Trump flack claimed the former U.S. Central Command leader had his “head in the sand” over the massive protests amid George Floyd’s death.
And after Gidley declared that Mattis has a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the moment, Henry pushed back.
“When General Mattis says he’s not even pretending to try to unite people, aren’t you making his point?” Henry wondered aloud. “When he says that, rather than inviting him and saying, ‘What do you mean? Let’s bring people together,’ you are attacking this retired general. Isn’t that making the point that you are not uniting people?”
“No, the division is on the other side,” Gidley retorted before reading off some lines from a recent Trump speech.
“But the president is calling him the most overrated general,” the Fox anchor interjected. “He’s the former defense secretary for this president. That’s uniting people, calling him the ‘most overrated’?”
The deputy press secretary, meanwhile, continued to take the Trumpian tack of insulting the president’s ex-official.
“It’s obvious that the general doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in the American cities out there, or actually worse, has turned a blind eye to it,” Gidley exclaimed. “The president is solely focused on uniting this country and bringing back safety and security in our American cities.”
“This country is the greatest country, the greatest idea ever realized and the president wants to protect that at every cost,” he continued. “He’s doing that. But he also works as the healer-in-chief. He’s done that time and time again, bringing people together.”