Unlike other one-off members of Donald Trump’s inner circle who have published books in the past few weeks, former National Security Advisor is HR McMaster’s Battlefields:: The struggle to defend the free world is noticeably dirt-free about the president.
But that didn’t stop Stephen Colbert from getting it out of him when he showed up The late show Monday night.
The host’s first attempt came after McMaster spoke out against Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying, “If you are a dictator and have people around you who will tell you how great you are and what you want to hear, and I think ̵
“It sounds like a terrible form of government when a man says he is the only one who has the answers and only surrounds himself with people who say exactly what he wants to hear,” replied Colbert with deep sarcasm. “Can you imagine having such a government, sir?”
“Well, we fought a revolution because we didn’t want to live under a monarchy,” McMaster said, deliberately or ignorantly ignoring the obvious Trump analogy. “And I think we should celebrate, Stephen, that we are not a monarchy.”
“We should,” replied Colbert, “but there are some people who think that because of their behavior in Washington, DC, that wouldn’t be a bad idea right now, would you agree, General?”
McMaster laughed in response, but again declined to call his former boss directly, instead advising American voters to learn lessons from the Founding Fathers. “What I hope for Stephen is that we restore our confidence in our form of government, in our democracy,” he said. “That we take at least a minute to be grateful that we can help determine how we are governed.”
Colbert hit a brick wall and quoted straight from McMaster’s book, in which he wrote: “Defense begins with exposing the Kremlin’s efforts to sow discord within nations.” Finding that the president had called Russian interference in US elections a “hoax”, he asked, “If you still believe this, is Trump undermining our defense by questioning whether Russia is doing this?”
“Yes, I think any leader who does not recognize the nature of the threat is playing into their hands,” said McMaster, formulating his criticism in general while condemning Trump’s specific actions. “What I am describing Battlefields President Putin’s playbook combines disinformation with denial. We don’t want to help them refuse, so we have to pull the curtain back and reveal it and then also make sure we don’t knock them down for success with the departments we see in our society. “
Russia wants to “pull us down, polarize and compete against each other and reduce our trust in ourselves and in our democratic principles and institutions and processes,” he continued.
“So, I mean, my advice to any leader would be that we are not our worst enemy,” added McMaster. “Let’s not make it easy for ourselves”
“Undermining our trust in our democracy would be like saying, ‘This will be a rigged election’ and ‘If I don’t win, the only way is if it’s rigged’ and ‘We’ll never know who actually is. “Won,” said Colbert, quoting President Trump directly, “Are those the things Russians would like to hear from a president?”
“Absolutely they are,” replied McMaster. “These are things that we should all absolutely avoid.”