Trump hints at defence secretary Mattis' exit

Trump suggests Mattis could be next to step down calls defense secretary “sort of a Democrat”

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis Pool Getty Images

President Donald Trump hinted that US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis may be planning to quit his administration, and described the former U.S. Marine Corps general as "sort of a Democrat".

President Donald Trump forecasted a potential post-midterm White House shake-up in his 60 Minutes interview that airs Sunday evening.

"I mean, at some point, everybody leaves", Trump said Sunday.

He would not say whether he wanted Mr Mattis gone.

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He said he's entitled to staff shakeups and has "phenomenal" people on standby to come work for his administration. "And I have other people that I'm beyond thrilled with".

The comments were the first...

Trump had been deferential toward Mattis, saying on September 5 his defence chief would remain in his job.

Mattis' future has become a focus of media speculation, particularly after last month's release of a book by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward that portrayed Mattis privately disparaging Trump to associates.

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In the "60 Minutes" interview, Trump alluded to upcoming changes in his cabinet.

"I will always be there with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but they have to pay their way", the president said. I have some people that I'm not thrilled with. "Everybody. People leave. That's Washington", President Trump said.

Stahl asked Trump if more staffers will leave the White House, noting the "record turnover" that has characterized his administration and mentioned Defense Secretary James Mattis.

"They're not going to do it anymore", Trump added.

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Trump also sought to play down rumors that Mattis could soon leave his administration, saying that the two "get along very well" and calling the Pentagon chief "a good guy". 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 Russian Federation and whether Trump as president obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

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