While Secretary Defense Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis maintains he sees ‘no problem’ in his relationship with Trump
Inside sources say Trump has turned on Mattis calling his Pentagon chief ‘Moderate Dog’ instead of ‘Mad Dog’ behind closed doors
Rumors are rife president Donald Trump is expected to push out Secdef Jim Mattis, probably after the November midterms
Mattis position has been tenuous since stories about him surfaced in Bob Woodward’s book
He has also had to deny he penned the anonymous ‘resistance’ op-ed in New York Times that excoriated the president
Trump’s hands may be slowed down by the lack of assurance that Republican lawmakers will readily back a fresh nominee
Many of the lawmakers see Mattis as a calming presence in a chaotic administration
Out of favour; Defense Secretary James Mattis said he sees ‘no problem’ in his relationship with Trump, but insiders say his days as the Pentagon chief are numbered
The rumors President Donald Trump is expected to push out Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are getting stronger with talk the retired four star general will be gone after the midterm election.
Some have interpreted as a sign of Trump’s diminished confidence in his defense chief, the president now calling the man he once referred to as ‘Mad Dog’ his ‘Moderate Dog.’
Mattis irked the White House after being mentioned in Bob Woodward’s book ‘Fear’ as having referred to his boss as a ‘fifth grader’.
Mattis has denied having any role in the creation of Woodward’s expose. He has also denied allegations that he’s the author of an anonymous New York Times opinion article that excoriated Trump, revealing that aides have discussed invoking the 25th amendment against Trump.
Trump who it’s said, loves to surround himself with the military once was a fan of Mattis, appointing the retired Marine general his sec of defense despite concerns of having an ex-military official in charge of the armed forces.
But now Trump, who used to call Mattis his ‘Mad Dog,’ thinks his defense secretary is too moderate in his views and refers to him as ‘Moderate Dog.’
Possible replacements include Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both of whom have signaled they have no interest in the job.
Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Politico he’s advocating for Mattis to stay and that whether he stays may ‘depend on whether I have anything or not to say about it.’
Many Capitol Hill insiders see Mattis as a calming presence in a chaotic administration.
Asked earlier this week about his relationship with the president, Mattis said he sees ‘no problem’ and ‘it’s been the same all along.’
However, he evaded questions about his longevity in the administration. Pressed if he expects to remain in Trump’s cabinet throughout the president’s first term in office, he responded ‘this is not a day I’m going to go further into politics.’
President Trump said earlier this month Mattis will stay on the job as Pentagon chief
Earlier this month Trump said Mattis will ‘stay’ in his post dispelling rumors that his defense secretary will be the next member of his Cabinet to be ousted.
‘I think he’s a terrific person. He’s doing a fantastic job as secretary,’ Trump said after The Washington Post reported on speculations of an imminent cabinet shake-up.
It was Mattis’ forceful denouncement of Woodward’ book that helped his cause.
Publicly, Trump has praised his defense secretary for a ‘beautiful rebuttal.
‘He just made the nicest quote about me I think I’ve ever had,’ the president said.
Trump said that he confronted Mattis about the book’s claims, and the retired general reciprocated by denying having made those statements.
‘I asked whether or not this was true. He said, ‘Not only is it not true, I’d like to write a statement.’ And I said, ‘Thank you very much, that’s very kind.’
‘He wrote the most beautiful statement,’ Trump said.
He added: ‘I think he’s a terrific person. He’s doing a fantastic job as secretary.’
Asked directly if Mattis will stay in the job, Trump replied: ‘Yeah. He’ll stay.’
Mattis refuted parts of Woodward’s book, which alleges that the top general compared Trump to a ‘fifth grader.’
Other bits of the book, though, he left unchallenged.
Mattis did not address all of Woodward’s claims, including that Trump directed Mattis to ‘f***ing kill’ Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
After Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump told Mattis he wanted the Syrian leader taken out, saying: ‘Let’s f***ing kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f***ing lot of them.’
Mattis allegedly, ‘assured Trump he would work on it, but then told a senior aide they’d do nothing of the kind,’ National security advisers to Trump instead developed options for a more modest airstrike that the president ultimately ordered, Woodward writes.
‘The book means nothing. It’s a work of fiction. Already General Mattis has come out very, very strongly. And I think you know General Mattis, he does what he wants to do, he’s a very independent guy. He was insulted by the remarks that were attributed to him and he came out with a very strong statement,’ Trump protested. ‘General John Kelly, the same exact thing. He said he was insulted by what it said.’
In another episode described in ‘Fear,’ Trump questioned the utility of U.S. early warning systems in Alaska to identify a nuclear attack from North Korea.
When Trump asked about it, Mattis is said to have told him: ‘We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III.’
Mattis later told colleagues Trump had the mental ability of ‘a fifth or sixth-grader,’ according to Woodward’s sources.
On Tuesday Mattis denied the account, saying in a statement of his own: ‘The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence.
‘While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility.’
A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Rob Manning, said Mattis was never interviewed by Woodward.
‘Mr. Woodward never discussed or verified the alleged quotes included in his book with Secretary Mattis’ or anyone within the Defense Department,’ Manning said.
‘It was not his op-ed,’ spokesperson Dana White said of Mattis.
The New York Times opinion piece describes the president as ‘impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective’ and says the author is part of an organized ‘resistance’ whose goal is ‘to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting [President] Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.’