Donald Trump Claimed He Coined Nickname That Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis Actually Had For Years Before Meeting Trump

Donald Trump sits nexdt to Jim Mattis in a cabinet meeting.
Win McNamee / Getty Images

Donald Trump has a long history of telling some tall tales once he gets in front of an audience and starts talking, but the latest claim is drawing some strong pushback from the military.

In a sweeping, two-hour address to the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference, Trump claimed that he coined the famous “Mad Dog” nickname for four-star Marine Corps General Jim Mattis, his former Secretary of Defense. As the Military Times noted, Trump claimed that he assessed a previous nickname that Mattis was never actually known to have had, and then said he offered up “Mad Dog” instead.

“Just like I did with Mattis,” Trump told attendees at the conservative conference. “I said we’re going to give you a new nickname, because ‘Chaos’ is not a good nickname. So we changed it to ‘Mad Dog.'”

But the report noted that Jim Mattis had been known as Mad Dog since before Donald Trump moved into the White House, and long, long before it, at that. The report cited an article from the Los Angeles Times published in 2004 that had the headline “Marines’ ‘Mad Dog Mattis’ Battles for Iraqis’ Support” about the work Mattis had done leading the fight in the Iraq War.

The article also noted the real origin of the nickname Mad Dog, nothing that it was something his troops called Mattis behind his back, which was “high praise in Marine culture.” Mattis himself even made reference to the origin of his nickname while he was speaking at his Senate confirmation hearing in January, 2017, just days after Trump took office.

“That nickname was given to me by the press, and some of you may have experienced similar occasions with the press where perhaps they didn’t get it quite right,” Mattis said during his testimony, via the Military Times, pointing out that he did not care for the nickname.

This is not the first time that Donald Trump appeared to be caught in a lie regarding Jim Mattis, as CNN noted. After Mattis resigned in protest late last year over disagreements with Trump’s worldview and attitude toward American allies, Trump later told reporters that he “essentially fired” the four-star general — despite the public letter of resignation that laid out exactly why Mattis was quitting Trump’s administration.

There is a chance that Donald Trump could see Jim Mattis again on the political battlefield sometime in the future. As Stars and Stripes noted, there is now a grassroots effort to encourage Mattis to run for public office, though the retired general has not commented on any political aspirations.