US President Donald Trump has reportedly “soured” on Defense Secretary James Mattis – arguably the most important moderating force in the administration – and might dismiss the Pentagon chief after the midterm elections, according to reports.
The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times on Saturday published accounts of the increasingly frayed relationship between Trump and the retired Marine general whom the president used to revere.
Citing multiple administration and congressional officials, the reports said Mattis may either step down or be fired ahead of the upcoming elections in November due to growing differences with President Trump on a number of fronts.
The president is looking to replace the Pentagon chief with someone “who would be more vocally supportive than Mr. Mattis, who is vehemently protective of the American military against perceptions it could be used for political purposes,” the Times reported.
Officials say that the president has soured on his defense secretary, and that Mr. Mattis is increasingly weary of capricious demands from his boss.
The report added that Trump appears resentful of unflattering comparisons between him and the four star general. Trump has reportedly stopped calling Mattis “Mad Dog” and has instead begun calling him “Moderate Dog” behind closed doors, according to another report by Politico.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNBC that the reports were all “completely untrue.”
The reported fray in the relationship could have been escalated by the latest political book to rock Washington — Fear: Trump in the White House by veteran journalist Bob Woodward. The book attributes several quotes to Mattis that are highly critical of Trump.
In one instance, Woodward writes that Mattis vented his frustration to a group of confidants, saying Trump appeared to have an understanding of “a fifth or sixth grader.” The Pentagon chief, however, has rebuked the book as “fiction” and a “product of someone’s rich imagination.”