Defense Secretary James Mattis brushed aside President Donald Trump‘s comments that he might be a Democrat and may leave the administration, telling reporters he thought “nothing at all” about the president’s comments and that he has never discussed with him the possibility of leaving.
When asked on CBS’ “60 Minutes” if Mattis might leave the administration, Trump said he had “a very good relationship with him. It could be that he is. I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you wanna know the truth.”
“But General Mattis is a good guy,” said Trump. “We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.”
Asked what he thought about Trump’s comments, Mattis told reporters “Nothing at all.”
“I’m on his team,” Mattis said. “We have never talked about me leaving. And as you can see right here, we’re on our way. We just continue doing our job.”
Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Vietnam that he had not spoken to the president since the interview, nor has he seen it, and is only going by what he’s seen in the press.
Reporters also asked Mattis if he had ever registered as either a Democrat or Republican.
“I’ve never registered for any political party,” said Mattis, who is registered to vote in his home state of Washington, which does not require political affiliations to be disclosed.
When asked earlier if he was a Democrat, Mattis had replied with a lengthy statement that having served a lifetime in the U.S. military, “we are proudly apolitical.”
“By that, I mean that in our duties, we were brought up to obey the elected commander in chief, whoever that is,” said Mattis.
“Where am I today? I’m a member of the president’s administration,” said Mattis.
“You can see that my portfolio is bipartisan by its very basis, and that is the protection of the United States,” he added.
“That’s what President Trump has told me to do, and I eagerly carry that out, alongside probably the most selfless young men and women — not all young; some old men and women, too — civilian and military, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines working together,” he said. “So that’s where I stand. That defines me.”