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President Trump on Tuesday confirmed that he wanted to order an assassination against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but former Secretary of Defense James Mattis "was against it."

What he's saying: "I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set. Mattis didn't want to do it," Trump said on "Fox & Friends." His comments confirm a detail reported in journalist Bob Woodward's 2018 book "Fear."

  • "No, I don't regret that. I could have lived either way with that. I considered him, certainly not a good person. But I had a shot to take him out if I wanted and Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of that stuff. He'd keep you in military but he didn't know how to win."

Reality check: Trump's comments Tuesday contradicted his own statement to reporters in 2018, when Trump said an operation to kill Assad "was never even contemplated."

Context: Trump wanted the assassination after it was believed the Syrian government used chemical weapons in an attack in Douma, Syria, according to Woodward's reporting.

  • The administration instead eventually conducted targeted airstrikes on Syria's chemical weapons sites.

Go deeper

Trump tells House GOP leader he wants a "big deal" on COVID relief

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Within a day of tweeting that he was calling off bipartisan talks for a coronavirus stimulus deal, President Trump phoned House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and indicated he was worried by the stock market reaction and wanted a "big deal" with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, per two sources familiar with the call.

What we're hearing: Trump was spooked after seeing the instant drop in the stock market and intense backlash to his tweet, and he has since directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to push for a more comprehensive relief bill before the election.

The recovery needs rocket fuel

Data: BLS. Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's deeply disappointing jobs report should light a fire under Congress, which has dithered despite signs the economy is struggling to kick back into gear.

Driving the news: President-elect Biden said Friday afternoon in Wilmington that he supports another round of $1,200 checks.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.