Secretary of defense Jim Mattis answers a reporter’s question during a meeting with and Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Tuesday dismissed recent news reports that the tensions between him and President Donald Trump point to leave quickly.
Asked by a journalist whether such reports should be taken seriously, he replied, “No. I would not take seriously. It is just like the most of this kind of thing in this city”, he said, are fueled by unsubstantiated rumours.
“Someone cooks a head. They then make a call to a normally talkative class of people, they find a few other things to do in, they add to the rumor, that someone else on the other coast starts writing the same thing — before you know it you have a story,” he said in a small group of reporters on the steps of the Pentagon as he awaited the arrival of his Philippine counterpart.
Several news organizations have reported that Trump has become weary of Mattis, a retired Marine general, who was one of his first Cabinet selections. He is seen by many as a holding influence on the Trumpet in the face of sometimes impulsive movements on the national security.
It is known that Mattis is private disagreed with Trump on many issues, including the president’s decision to end AMERICAN participation in the war between Iran nuclear deal and the relocation of the AMERICAN embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But Mattis is widely supported in the Congress and the military and the upper hand in an administration argument in 2017 over whether to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Trump has “soured” on Mattis, and that the president is considering whether he wants someone running the Pentagon that would more vocally support. The newspaper also reported that Mattis is also tired of pushing back against various Trump proposals.
In his comments Tuesday, Mattis did not refer to a specific story. He said that he did not plan to stop, and he is not worried about the stories.
“It will die down,” he said. “How often have we by this now, since I have been here? It will die down quickly and the people who started the rumors will be allowed to write the next rumor.”
The Times report followed the release of a book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward about the Trump card of the White House in which the author says that Mattis said to his closest co-workers after a National Security Council meeting of this year that the president acted as and had the concept of “a fifth or sixth-grader.”
Mattis quickly disputed the Woodward account, says in a written statement on Sept. 4, “The contemptuous words about the president attributed to me in Woodward’s book, were never uttered by me or in my presence.”
Asked Tuesday whether he thinks about leaving, Mattis said: “I think about my work every day.”