Trump says Mattis 'could be' leaving as U.S. defence chief

Donald Trump and James Mattis

President Trump repeatedly expressed ambivalence toward North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in an interview with "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday, at one point saying he thought he knew more about the alliance "from the standpoint of fairness" than Defense Secretary James Mattis.

President Trump: Well, I don't know.

"I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth", Trump said. We get along very well. I really mean it.

Last month, Mattis dismissed news reports that tensions with Trump could soon point to his exit.

Take for example this morning's Fox & Friends (a show that Trump had always been a regular guest on before he ran for office) and the lavish praise the provided in reaction to last night's 60 Minutes interview.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said in a brief statement: "Secretary Mattis is laser-focused on doing his job - ensuring the United States military remains the most lethal force on the planet". "Something's changing and it'll change back again", he said.

Trump said that while he thinks he has a "great cabinet" there are some people he's not happy with.

He said that while he was satisfied with the performance of certain members of his administration, there are others "that I'm not thrilled with". "Everybody. People leave. That's Washington".

"I have people now on standby that will be phenomenal", Trump said.

"I'm changing things around".

Over the weekend, fresh comments made by US President Donald Trump have led to renewed questions over the fate of the retired Marine four-star general.

Finally, the president revealed his capacity for self-reflection and humility when Stahl asked him if there was anything he wished he hadn't said or done in his nearly two years in office.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speaks during a meeting with Greek Minister of Defense Panagiotis Kammenos after an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., October 9, 2018.

The speculation on the possibility of Mattis leaving rose with the recent publication of "Fear", a narrative of backbiting within Trump's administration by celebrated journalist Bob Woodward.

"Of course, they shouldn't do it", Trump said, "but it's not our country". I don't have to pledge to you. Lesley, they treat me worse.

"I didn't really make fun of her", Trump said.

Mr. Trump questioned the very proposition that he called Russian Federation to help him in the elections.

"But did you have to-" Stahl cut in.

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