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Jim Mattis jokes about rumors he could soon be out at the Pentagon

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Trump Mattis cabinet meeting
U.S.
President Donald Trump (L) and Defense Secretary James Mattis (R)
holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S.
March 13, 2017.

REUTERS/Jonathan
Ernst


  • US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis dismissed reports of
    his impending exit from the Pentagon.
  • Mattis attributed repeated suggestions he could be
    ousted to the what described as the media’s enthusiasm for
    rumors.
  • There has been considerable turnover in the
    Trump administration, but Trump says he’s still happy with his
    Pentagon chief.

Rumors continue to swirl about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’
looming departure from the Pentagon.

Suggestions Mattis could be ousted have surfaced several times during
President Donald Trump’s time in office.

A recent Politico report said Trump has
cooled on the Pentagon chief he once praised, dropping the
nickname “Mad Dog” for “Moderate Dog,” in what was reported to be
a swipe at the defense secretary’s purported attempts to moderate
or slow-walk White House initiatives.

Mattis was asked about the rumors
outside the Pentagon on Tuesday, and he responded with some jokes
and jabs of his own.

Mattis denied that he was considering leaving. “I’m thinking
about doing my job each day,” he said, smiling. He said he
wouldn’t take reports of his impending departure “seriously at
all.”


James Mattis
Defense
Secretary James Mattis on Friday flatly denied reports the US is
planning a missile strike against Iran.

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

“It’s like most of these kind of things in this town. Somebody
cooks up a headline. They then call to a normally chatty class of
people. They find a couple of other things to put in. They add
the rumor. Somebody on the other coast starts writing the same
thing. Next thing you know you got a story,” Mattis said.

“It’ll die down, just like how many times [have] we been through
this now just since I’ve been here?” he added. “It’ll die down
soon, and the people who started the rumor will be allowed to
write the next rumor too. Just the way the town is. Keep a sense
of humor about it.”

When asked if he never thought about leaving, Mattis offered some
wit as he walked away.

“Of course I don’t think about leaving. I love it here. I’m
thinking about retiring here, getting a nice little place down on
the Potomac,” he said, gesturing toward the river, which is not
far from the Pentagon.

Mattis was not Trump’s first choice for the job.

But one of the president’s top candidates, retired Army Gen. Jack
Keane spoke highly of Mattis, as did other national-security
figures like late Sen. John McCain. (Mattis retired from the
Marine Corps as a general in 2013 and had to get a congressional
wavier to take over at the Pentagon, as he had not been out of
the service for the minimum of seven years.)

In spite of that, Trump touted Mattis before taking office,
praising him as “a true General’s General.” But Mattis has not
been able to remain above the intrigue of the Trump White House.


James Mattis and Donald TrumpChris Kleponis-Pool/Getty
Images

Reports have emerged of Trump’s frustration with slow implementation of some of
his policies.

A former senior White House official told NBC News this summer that
Trump and Mattis “don’t really see eye to eye.”

The White House reportedly has a shortlist of potential
replacements.

Trump — who often touts his prowess as a deal-maker and is said
to promote rivalries and
infighting between subordinates as part of his management style — has also
denied there is a rift.

“We’re very happy with him,” Trump said this month, when
asked about Mattis’ future. “We’re having a lot of
victories.”

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