Former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis on Thursday responded to President Trump, his former boss, after Mr. Trump reportedly called him the “world’s most overrated general” in a meeting with congressional leaders earlier this week.
Speaking at the 74th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York, Gen. Mattis said he welcomed the label.
“I’m not just an overrated general. I am the greatest — the world’s most overrated,” he said. “I’m honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals, and frankly that sounds pretty good to me.”
“And you do have to admit that between me and Meryl, at least we’ve had some victories,” he said.
He said the rating didn’t bother him.
“Of course not — I earned my spurs on the battlefield. … Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor,” he said, a reference to Mr. Trump’s medical deferment during the Vietnam War.
The dinner is a charity function where speakers frequently roast public figures.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said he pointed out to Mr. Trump in a White House meeting this week that Gen. Mattis had warned of the consequences resulting from the administration’s move to pull U.S. forces out of Northern Syria, apparently prompting the retort and rating of Gen. Mattis from the president.