Defense Secretary James Mattis was asked about the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh while en route to the Czech Republic. Here’s his pull-no-punches answer on what he thinks of the killer:

Full exchange here:

Q: Any reaction to the shooting at the Synagogue?

SEC. MATTIS: I know right now what you know plus I’ve received one bit of intel, which does not add anymore detail. It’s just a normal report that I would get on any what we would consider to be a significant event like that. I’ve talked before about the loss of respect and fundamental friendliness towards one another, but there’s one person responsible.

This individual I wanted to call him a man who is the the poorest excuse for a man you could even come up with who would use a weapon in a house of worship on unarmed innocent people and even shoot four policemen and then surrender himself. This is a coward and he is not a man by any definition that we use in the Department of Defense.

That’s tough on the neighborhood, on the members of that synagogue, on all of us, the way you’ve been creating of religion and one of our most fundamental rights that our country was founded on.

Q: Just a follow on that, how come when we speak to troops you talk to them about the stabilizing effect (inaudible) very uncertain time right now for a nation? Wouldn’t you talk to them especially like a lot of the division that’s going on in the country?

SEC. MATTIS: You know what, Tara? The U.S. military — what I’d expect from our troops and what I’ve see of them, these men and women working respect alongside each other. People will look at other people’s religion as a private matter to be respected. The U.S. military I believe represents what it’s all about in America where you work together to solve things, but also in the U.S. military, our job is to protect democracy and we’re devoted — focused like a laser beam on that. So, let’s go off the record, okay?