In a 60 Minutes interview, Donald Trump discussed the possibility that Defense Secretary James Mattis could be leaving the White House:
President Trump said he is unsure whether Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will leave the administration and described him as “sort of a Democrat,” amid reports of friction between the two.
Trump made the remarks in an interview with CBS News’s “60 Minutes” that airs Sunday night. An excerpt of the interview was released Sunday morning.
“Well, I don’t know; he hasn’t told me that,” Trump said when asked whether Mattis might be leaving his position.
Trump said that he has a “very good relationship” with Mattis and that the two had lunch together “two days ago,” but the president added that “it could be that he is” leaving.
While Trump’s comments suggest that it would be a case of James Mattis voluntarily leaving, this is a tactic Trump has used before when he actually wants to fire someone. He floats the idea that the person might be choosing to leave, then he fires them, often while claiming that they actually resigned. Despite Trump’s reality TV persona, he appears to be a complete coward when it comes to firing people. But, he does fire people, and the idea of firing James Mattis is not new. Rumors of the possible replacement of James Mattis first circulated in early September after the Bob Woodward book revealed that James Mattis had insulted Trump.
The White House is actively discussing possible replacements for Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to a report published in The Washington Post on Wednesday.
The newspaper reported that discussions about who would succeed the top Trump administration official predated reports this week that Mattis had insulted the president’s intelligence. One senior administration official told the paper, however, that “speculation about who replaces Mattis is now more real than ever.”
At that time, Trump decided against confirming the rumors.
The president, who has vigorously attacked Woodward’s book, stood by Mattis on Wednesday, telling reporters that the former United States Marine Corps general is staying on board.
But, Trump once said the same type of thing about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, before subsequently firing him. And his latest comments about James Mattis point to the same pattern.
The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS! He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!https://t.co/FrqiPLFJ1E
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Another similarity is that Rex Tillerson and now James Mattis have both had quotes leak of them making disparaging remarks about Donald Trump.
Tillerson stunned a handful of senior administration officials when he called the president a “moron” after a tense two-hour long meeting in a secure room at the Pentagon called “The Tank,” according to three officials who were present or briefed on the incident.
Defense Secretary James Mattis
Following a contentious National Security Council meeting, Mattis told people close to him that the president had the understanding of “a fifth- or sixth-grader.”
Donald Trump is a narcissist. He simply cannot allow there to be public knowledge of his aides insulting him like that. His public image is far more important to him than the actual competency of the individual who insulted him. As soon as this quote from James Mattis was made public, Donald Trump immediately began considering how he could save face by firing him. That is, quite simply, how he thinks.
Now, why is this scary? Because James Mattis has been standing in the way of Donald Trump making impulsive decisions with our military.
DONALD Trump ordered his defense chief to “f***ing kill” Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad after a chemical attack on civilians last year, a bombshell book claims.
James Mattis is said to have told the President that he would “get right on it” after being told to “f***ing kill the lot of them” — but then dismissed his order.
According to the account, after speaking with Trump, Mattis, 67, told his staff: “We’re not going to do any of that.”
If James Mattis is fired and replaced by somebody who won’t stand in the way of Donald Trump’s impulsive decisions, who knows what could happen.