President Donald Trump dismissed rumors that Secretary of Defense James Mattis is set to depart his Cabinet, in a “60 Minutes” interview set to air Sunday night.
Reporter Leslie Stahl confronted Trump with allegations that Mattis is nearly ready to submit his resignation, but the president remained adamant that Mattis hasn’t told him about any plans to leave.
When asked about Mattis’ potential departure, Trump replied, “Well, I don’t know. He hasn’t told me that.”
“I have a very good relationship with him. I had lunch with him two days ago. I have a very good relationship with him. It could be that he is. I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth,” Trump added. “But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.”
WILL MATTIS LEAVE? “General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves,” President Trump tells Lesley Stahl for @60Minutes https://t.co/kYresbc0JT pic.twitter.com/3Rq8rVjb0G
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) October 14, 2018
CBS billed the story as Trump “hinting” that Mattis may depart his role — a change that’s been in the rumor mill for several months — but the president seemed to signal that the internal chaos that roiled the Trump administration in its infancy has settled somewhat, and called reports of internal strife within the ranks of the president’s Cabinet are “fake news.”
Mattis has been the target of departure rumors for months, after reportedly clashing with National Security Adviser John Bolton, and disagreeing with the president over his approach toward North Korea. But Mattis has also been, arguably, one of the administration’s most successful appointments; he’s handled Middle East confrontation deftly and improved American success in ongoing conflicts.