'Mr. Secretary, are you a Democrat?'

Erika Holt
October 17, 2018

US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said that he never spoke to the President about resigning from his position and was continuing with his job, after Donald Trump called him a "sort of a Democrat" and said that the Pentagon chief may be leaving his post.

Asked by Stahl if Mattis was going to be leaving, Mr. Trump replied: "Well, I don't know".

In their first conversation since the 60 Minutes interview was taped, Mattis told reporters that Trump had told him, "I'm a hundred percent with you" and "I'm with you a hundred percent". "I mean, at some point, everybody leaves".

"I tell you what I don't want to do".

When asked by CBS' Leslie Stahl whether Mattis might leave, Trump said "Well, I don't know".

"There's no daylight between the secretary and the president when it comes to the unwavering support of our military", Dana White, the Pentagon press secretary, told The New York Times in September.

Experts have said that the trip is part of the U.S. plan to include Vietnam in a defence cooperation network to deal with regional security challenges, including Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.

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Such visits by USA defense secretaries have until now been exceedingly rare, and Mattis's presence strongly signals the importance Washington sees in further enhancing ties with a former foe amid rising tensions with China. "We continue in the Department of Defence to do our job". He said he may meet there with his Chinese counterpart, even though Beijing had recently told Mattis that if he came to China his counterpart would not be available to meet.

Trump was repeatedly and expressly asked whether he would reinstate the policy of separating immigrant parents and children at the US-Mexico border, but would not give a straight answer, saying "we're looking at a lot of things".

He has strongly denied making any such remarks.

"He never said to the Fed, 'I want you to change this or to change that, '" Kudlow said. "I think the secretary of state will be airborne shortly. And the military relationship is to be a stabilising force in the relations between the two countries", Mattis said. Mr Mattis said he had not.

As Defense Secretary, Mattis has avoided the expressions of loyalty to Trump sometimes voiced by other Cabinet members.

Retired four-star Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who served as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Clinton administration, called Mattis "a pillar of good judgement, integrity, and deep experience dealing with a chaotic Administration". However Mattis had never identified himself as a Republican, nor as a Democrat.

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