WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S President Donald Trump said on Wednesday Defense Secretary James Mattis will remain in his job, a day after a report, denied by Mattis, that he had made disparaging remarks about the president.
Asked by reporters at the White House whether he was considering replacing Mattis, Trump said: “He’ll stay right there. We’re very happy with him. We’re having a lot of victories.”
Mattis was quoted as having told associates that Trump acted like “a fifth- or sixth-grader,” in excerpts published by the Washington Post of a book by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward.
According to the book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” the Republican president told Mattis he wanted to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assassinated after Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017.
Mattis told Trump he would “get right on it,” but instead developed a plan for a limited air strike that did not threaten Assad personally, according to the excerpts.
Mattis issued a statement dismissing the book as “a uniquely Washington brand of literature” and saying the contemptuous words about Trump attributed to him “were never uttered by me or in my presence.”
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)