In a clip of the interview that is set to air in full Sunday evening, Trump said Mattis, a former Marine Corps general, hasn’t told him he planned to leave the administration but it “could be that he is.”
“I have a very good relationship with him,” Trump told CBS’ Lesley Stahl. “I think he’s sort of a Democrat if you want to know the truth. But Gen. Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. People leave. That’s Washington.”
Speculation that Trump may fire Mattis has been mounting for months. The defense chief has reportedly been at odds with Trump on several issues, including the president’s request to ban transgender troops from the military as well as his policies toward NATO and North Korea.
“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. “It’s up to the president of the United States to decide what he wants to do.”
The Trump administration has experienced an unprecedented turnover rate as compared to past administrations. Over two dozen high-ranking administration figures ― including several Cabinet members ― have resigned or been fired over the last 20 months.
Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced she would be joining the growing list of departed Trump officials at the end of the year.
But Trump, in his “60 Minutes” interview, downplayed the high number of departures. He also dubbed the almost daily media reports detailing “chaos” within the White House as “fake news.”
“It’s wrong, it’s so false, it’s fake news,” Trump said. “I’m changing things around and I’m entitled to.”
When asked if other people would soon be leaving his administration, Trump responded, “Yeah, other people will go, sure.”
The full interview is scheduled to air on CBS on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET.