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Report: Trump Tiring of James Mattis, Thinks He's a Dem

Newsweek logo Newsweek 9/15/2018 Ramsey Touchberry

Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis is no stranger to disagreements with President Donald Trump. The president, according to more than a dozen White House, congressional, and current and former DOD officials cited byThe New York Times, is growing tired of his defense chief and believes Mattis could be a Democrat.

A new deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel, who has had past disagreements with Mattis, was added to the White House in May. Ricardel and Mattis reportedly clashed when it came to Pentagon appointees. Mattis privately said she was intentionally blocking nominees. The move to add her as a national security adviser, coupled with sources who spoke with The Times, suggests Trump could replace Mattis after the November midterm elections.

Mattis and Trump have privately, and publicly, been at odds over numerous policies since the defense secretary assumed his role the day Trump took office. The lack of praise, according to officials, has driven a wedge between the two and caused the president to question his role as the top Pentagon official. Two aides said the president wants Mattis to be more like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who offers more support and praise.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Energy Secretary Rick Perry listen to President Donald Trump speak during a luncheon with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on April 3 at The White House in Washington, D.C.: Trump is Tiring of Defense Secretary James Mattis, Thinks He is Secretly a Democrat © Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images Trump is Tiring of Defense Secretary James Mattis, Thinks He is Secretly a Democrat

Aides said that because Mattis disagrees with Trump and does not want to publicly offer insincere praise, Mattis largely remains silent.

“Secretary Mattis lives by a code that is part of his DNA,” Captain Jeff Davis told The Times. He served as a former spokesman for Mattis and retired from the Navy last month. “He is genetically incapable of lying, and genetically incapable of disloyalty.”

The White House did not immediately respond to Newsweek’s request for comment on Saturday about the report and whether Trump is content with Mattis' job performance.

Mattis has long been viewed as someone who stands between Trump and potentially impetuous or dangerous actions that many of his aides fear he might take on an angry whim.

In Bob Woodward’s new book Fear: Trump in the White House, Mattis reportedly said Trump “acted like — and had the understanding of —  ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader’” after they discussed why the U.S. military spent so much money and resources on having a strong presence on the Korean Peninsula. Mattis told the president it was to “prevent World War III.”

In a statement released by the White House earlier this month, Mattis called Woodward's book "fiction" and the idea he would "show contempt" for Trump or "tolerate disrespect" toward the president was "a product of someone's rich imagination." 

Mattis also denied being the author of a New York Times op-ed written by an anonymous administration official who said there was a “quiet resistance” that existed within the president’s administration.

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