Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Mattis works to dispel rumors, says Trump is '100 percent' with him

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis speaks to reporters at the Pentagon in Washington. President Donald Trump says he has a “very good relationship” with Mattis even though he thinks the Pentagon chief is “sort of a Demo Mattis works to dispel rumors, says Trump is '100 percent' with him
Melinda Barton | 16 October, 2018, 11:50

James Mattis, the US defense secretary, said on Tuesday that he was assured by President Trump that his job is "100 percent" safe after a "60 Minutes" interview with his boss led to some speculation about the cabinet member's future.

"I have some people that I'm not thrilled with", Trump said.

"We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment", Trump responded. By that, I mean that in our duties, we were brought up to obey the elected commander in chief, whoever that is. "Everybody. People leave. That's Washington". That's what President Trump has told me to do, and I eagerly carry that out, alongside probably the most selfless young men and women - not all young; some old men and women, too - civilian and military, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines working together.

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced she would be joining the growing list of departed Trump officials at the end of the year.

Asked by correspondent Lesley Stahl if Mattis is going to be leaving, Mr. Trump replied: "Well, I don't know". He hasn't told me that.

"They're a laughing stock all over the world", Trump admitted.

"It's wrong, it's so false, it's fake news", Trump said. There're some people that I'm not happy with. There's something- you'll be surprised to hear me say that.

Mattis also disagreed with Trump's decision to halt large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea as the US has tried to engage directly with North Korea to convince Kim Jong Un to halt its nuclear program.

Trump also accused scientists who say hurricanes are getting more frequent and intense because of climate change of having "a very big political agenda". I think I know more about it than he does.

He has strongly denied making any such remarks.

He would not say whether he wanted Mr Mattis gone. "We just continue doing our job", Mattis said.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speaks during a meeting with Greek Minister of Defense Panagiotis Kammenos after an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., October 9, 2018. When Mattis was nominated, Trump took to referring to him by a nickname he detests: "Mad Dog".

Dave Lindorff, investigative reporter and founder of This Can't Be Happening, called this notion "totally absurd", noting the EU was "a post-war project" formed in the 1950s, first in the European Common Market (now called the European Economic Community, or EEC), which only took its present form as the EU in the 1990s.

As Defense Secretary, Mattis has avoided the expressions of loyalty to Trump sometimes voiced by other Cabinet members.

Mattis has also split with the president on key policy issues.

Mattis has also worked behind the scenes to assure allies of the US commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation following Trump's frequent charges that member states were not paying their fair share on defense.