Trump: Defense secretary Mattis will "override" me on torture

An awkward choice of words but his point was clear, and it should reassure critics who weren’t thrilled to hear about CIA “black sites” possibly coming back. Note how shrewd this answer is, emphasizing that he continues to believe torture works while deferring to Mattis as an expert.

President Donald Trump said Friday he will allow his Defense Secretary James Mattis to “override” him on torture, an issue on which the two men disagree.

“I don’t necessarily agree, but I would tell you that he would override because I am giving him that power,” Trump said Friday during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May. “I am going to rely on him.”…

“I happen to feel that it does work, I’ve been open about that for a long period of time, but I am going with our leaders and we are going to win with or without,” Trump said.

Still, he added for emphasis, “But I do disagree.”

There’s something in that to please everyone. If you’re a Trump fan who supports waterboarding, you can find comfort in the fact that he agrees with you and that the policy might return, pending Mattis’s review. If you oppose waterboarding, here’s Trump telling you that a skeptic of the practice will have the final say for the administration. If you’re worried about his decisionmaking process generally, fearing that he’ll be imperious in refusing to take advice from his cabinet, this is a stark example to the contrary that should make you feel better. The fact that Mattis is probably the most universally respected member of his natsec team only makes it more appealing. Trump can probably never go wrong answering a question, “I think I’ll defer to Jim Mattis on that.”

He did a good job generally at today’s presser with Theresa May too, in case you missed it. You’re never 100 percent sure on a given day which Trump you’re going to get, the savvy Trump who wants to talk about lost jobs and the “forgotten man” or the other Trump who likes to babble about crowd size and the five million illegals who supposedly voted for Hillary. Anti-Trumpers of all stripes were watching today fearful that he might digress at some point to note that Kate Middleton is “a 10” or whatever, but he was solid and presidential. He even landed a good joke, as you’ll see in the clip, when a British reporter asked him about people who are worried to see him become the leader of the free world. “There goes that [special] relationship,” Trump teased. Pretty funny.