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Trump Suggests Defense Chief Could Leave


FILE - With U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis at his side, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting at the White House in Washington, April 3, 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis could be one of his next key officials to leave the government.

The Republican president, said in an interview Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes" news show, that he has no indication that Mattis is leaving, but added, "It could be that he is. I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth."

The U.S. leader described the retired Marine Corps general as "a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That's Washington."

Trump, during his 21-month administration, has fired or pushed out dozens of key officials, or watched as others he liked have resigned, including United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, who last week said she would be leaving her post at the end of the year.

Mattis, while leading the U.S. military, has occasionally been at odds with Trump and more hawkish Trump administration officials, including national security adviser John Bolton.

FILE - From left, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton listen as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House in Washington.
FILE - From left, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton listen as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House in Washington.

Mattis, in mid-2017, pushed for more diplomatic overtures to North Korea in dealing with Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, a stance Trump eventually came around to, leading to his June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump said there are still "some people" in his administration that he is "not thrilled with." He has often assailed Attorney General Jeff Sessions but declined to fire him for removing himself from oversight of the lengthy investigation of whether Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with Russia and whether Trump as president obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

But Trump rebuffed reports of chaos in the White House as "fake news," adding, "I'm changing things around. And I'm entitled to. I have people now on standby that will be phenomenal. They'll come into the administration, they'll be phenomenal."

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