President Donald Trump called Secretary of Defense James Mattis “sort of a Democrat” and said he does not know when or if the general will leave his cabinet during an interview with “60 Minutes,” according to a transcript released Sunday morning before the show was set to air Sunday evening.
Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” asked Trump if Mattis was one of the members of his cabinet the president was unhappy with and if the defense secretary was planning to depart in the clip.
“I have a very good relationship with [Mattis]. … I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.”
The question was in the context of a conversation in which Stahl asked about “chaos” in the White House.
“It’s so false,” Trump responded. “It’s fake news. … I’m changing things around, and I’m entitled to that. … I think I have a great cabinet. There are some people that I’m not happy with.”
Stahl then asked Trump is Mattis was one of the secretaries he was “not happy” with.
“I have a very good relationship with him. I had lunch with him two days ago,” Trump said.
Mattis refuted claims made by author Bob Woodward in his book “Fear” about the defense secretary’s alleged lack of faith in Trump in September.
“The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence,” Mattis said in a statement Sept. 4. “While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility.”
“Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader,’” Woodward wrote in “Fear: Trump in the White House,” which was released Sept. 11.
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