Trump calls Defense Secretary Mattis ‘sort of a Democrat,” suggests he may leave Pentagon

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Defense Secretary James Mattis may be leaving the Trump administration. On a pre-taped interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” President Donald Trump said he was not sure if Mattis was planning on stepping down from his post.

Trump said “It could be that he is” planning to depart, according to an excerpt of a transcript released before the full interview airs on Sunday night. “I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth. But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He many leave.”

Mattis departing the Pentagon may have serious implications on the Afghan war. Mattis has publicly opposed the privatization of the Afghan war and has rejected Erik Prince’s proposed plan. Mattis agrees with President Ashraf Ghani that bringing more private contractors is not the right solution for the conflict. Trump has not publicly commented on Prince’s privatization plan. He does have close ties with Prince’s family. Betsy DeVos, Prince’s older sister, said during her Secretary of Education senate confirmation hearing, that her family may have “possibly” donated $200 million to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.  

Matti’s status in the Trump administration was called into question following the publication of Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump presidency. Last month, the Pentagon denied that Mattis was behind the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times that detailed a resistance-style effort to undermine the president’s authority.

President Barack Obama had fired Mattis as his Central Command general in 2013, sources cite that Mattis was too hawkish on Iran and opposed reducing US troops in Afghanistan. Obama did not even call Mattis when he fired him.

Mattis is no stranger to Afghanistan. He led an expeditionary brigade in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Under the Obama administration he led Central Commend from 2010 to 2013. He has been leading the Pentagon since 2017 – he is one of the few original remaining Trump cabinet members.

“At some point, everybody leaves,” Trump said to CBS.

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