Trump calls Mat­tis ‘sort of a Demo­crat’

Pres­i­dent un­sure whether the de­fense sec­re­tary will exit job.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - Wire re­ports

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he is un­sure whether De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis, a re­tired four-star Marine gen­eral, will leave the ad­min­is­tra­tion amid re­ports of fric­tion be­tween the two.

“I think he’s sort of a Demo­crat, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said.

Trump made those com­ments about Mat­tis and a wide range of top­ics in a “60 Min­utes” in­ter­view broad­cast Sun­day night on CBS.

The pres­i­dent added that he did not know whether Mat­tis would be the next ma­jor de­par­ture from his ad­min­is­tra­tion, fol­low­ing the abrupt res­ig­na­tion an­nounce­ment last week by Nikki Ha­ley, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, and the ex­pected exit this fall of Don McGahn, the White House coun­sel.

“But Gen­eral Mat­tis is a good guy,” Trump said. “We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, every­body leaves. Every­body. Peo­ple leave. That’s Wash­ing­ton.”

Trump also backed off his claim that cli­mate change is a hoax but said he doesn’t know if it’s hu­man­caused and sug­gested that the cli­mate will “change back again.”

Trump said he doesn’t want to

put the U.S. at a dis­ad­van­tage in re­spond­ing to cli­mate change.

“I think some­thing’s hap­pen­ing. Some­thing’s chang­ing and it’ll change back again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s prob­a­bly a dif­fer­ence. But I don’t know that it’s man­made. I will say this: I don’t want to give tril­lions and tril­lions of dol­lars. I don’t want to lose mil­lions and mil­lions of jobs.”

Trump called cli­mate change a hoax in Novem­ber 2012 when he sent a tweet stat­ing, “The con­cept of global warm­ing was cre­ated by and for the Chi­nese in or­der to make U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ing non-com­pet­i­tive.” He later said he was jok­ing about the Chi­nese con­nec­tion.

“I’m not deny­ing cli­mate change,” he said in the in­ter­view. “But it could very well go back.”

Trump, who is sched­uled to­day to visit ar­eas of Georgia and Florida dam­aged by Hur­ri­cane Michael, also ex­pressed doubt over sci­en­tists’ find­ings link­ing the chang­ing cli­mate to more pow­er­ful hur­ri­canes.

“They say that we had hur­ri­canes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael,” said Trump, who iden­ti­fied “they” as “peo­ple” af­ter be­ing pressed by “60 Min­utes” correspondent Les­ley Stahl. She asked, “What about the sci­en­tists who say it’s worse than ever?” the pres­i­dent replied, “You’d have to show me the sci­en­tists be­cause they have a very big po­lit­i­cal agenda.”

On a dif­fer­ent topic, Trump told “60 Min­utes” that he’s been sur­prised by Wash­ing­ton be­ing a tough, de­cep­tive and di­vi­sive place.

“So I al­ways used to say the tough­est peo­ple are Man­hat­tan real es­tate guys and blah, blah,” he said. “Now I say they’re ba­bies.”

In the White House, Mat­tis has been seen as one of the “adults” in the or­bit of a pres­i­dent who took of­fice with no mil­i­tary or for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence and who has in some cases fa­vored loy­al­ists over sea­soned of­fi­cials for top posts.

But that no­tion has an­noyed the pres­i­dent, and a breach has de­vel­oped be­tween the men over some of the most high-pro­file items on Trump’s mil­i­tary agenda.

Never a di­rect critic in pub­lic, Mat­tis has pri­vately dis­agreed with the pres­i­dent on is­sues like NATO pol­icy, Trump’s de­ci­sion to can­cel large-scale joint ex­er­cises with the South Kore­ans, and the long-term ef­fec­tive­ness of the pres­i­dent’s with­drawal from the Iran nu­clear deal.

Asked about Trump’s com­ments, Col. Rob Man­ning, a Pen­tagon spokesman, said: “Sec­re­tary Mat­tis is laser-fo­cused on do­ing his job — en­sur­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary re­mains the most lethal force on the planet.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump told “60 Min­utes” that he did not know if De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis would be the next ma­jor de­par­ture from his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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