Defense Secretary James Mattis discussed his political affiliation during a flight to Vietnam Monday after President Donald Trump called Mattis “sort of a Democrat” during a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday.
“I’ve never registered for any political party,” Mattis told reporters Monday.
Mattis talked about how his years in the U.S. Marine Corps shaped him Monday.
“When I was 18, I joined the Marine Corps, and in the U.S. military we are proudly apolitical,” he said according to CNN journalist Jake Tapper. “By that, I mean that in our duties, we were brought up to obey the elected commander in chief, whoever that is. … Since I was in the military longer than some of you have been alive, I have seen Republicans and Democrats come and go.”
Mattis also addressed rumors about his departure that were sparked during Trump’s “60 Minutes” segment.
“I’m on his team. We have never talked about me leaving,” Mattis said, according to Fox News journalist Lucas Tomlinson.
Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” asked Trump if Mattis was one of the members of his cabinet the president was unhappy with and if the defense secretary was planning to depart in an interview that aired Sunday. (RELATED: Trump Calls Mattis ‘Sort Of A Democrat,’ Says He Doesn’t Know When He’ll Leave Cabinet)
“I have a very good relationship with [Mattis]. … I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.”
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