Donald Trump blasts former defence secretary at bizarre White House Thanksgiving event


The US president also issued what may have been a veiled swipe at his former defence secretary Jim Mattis. The turkey pardon is a presidential tradition and ceremony in which one turkey is chosen not to be slaughtered, as tens of millions routinely are for the US Thanksgiving holiday.

Earlier this week, Mr Mattis had urged Mr Trump’s rival Joe Biden to quickly reverse the current “America first” foreign policy strategy.

Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine on Monday, the former defence boss urged Mr Biden to “quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades”.

He added: “The best strategy for ensuring safety and prosperity is to buttress American military strength with enhanced civilian tools and a restored network of solid alliances — both necessary to achieving defence in depth.”

At the turkey pardon event, Mr Trump backed up the ‘America first’ rhetoric.

He told attendees: “We send our love to every member of the armed forces and the law enforcement heroes risking their lives to keep America safe, to keep America great, and, as I say, ‘America first.’ Shouldn’t go away from that: America first.”

In a less subtle swipe at Mr Mattis, the president had also taken to Twitter earlier on Tuesday to call him the “world’s most overrated general”.

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Meanwhile, the president’s also praised his wife Melania during his turkey pardon speech, particularly her efforts regarding the White House Rose Garden renovation.

The renovation sparked fury amongst Trump critics on social media platforms and in the press, with some hitting out at its simplicity.

The president said Ms Trump had “worked very hard” on the job, adding: “People have no idea how complex it is, but you’ve done a fantastic job. Thank you very much.”

Mr Trump did not mention the current situation regarding the election of his rival Joe Biden, who is due to take control of the White House in January.

The president has refused to explicitly concede to the president-elect despite losing the electoral vote in this month’s election.

However, analysts say Mr Trump has effectively done so by approving that the official protocols for the transition of presidential power go ahead.

He said he had made the recommendation “in the best interest of our country”.

Despite this, Mr Trump has maintained he will move “full speed ahead” with his legal cases to contest the election result, which he claims was the result of fraudulent voting.



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