US defence secretary Jim Mattis to be sacked


NEW YORK - US President Donald Trump is contemplating replacing Defence Secretary Jim Mattis with a more vocal supporter after the 2018 midterm elections in November, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing more than a dozen White House officials.

According to the newspaper, the relationship between President Trump and Secretary Mattis, once strong, has waned over time. The relationship between the two has become even more strained lately with the release of investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s book earlier this week, where he quotes Mattis as saying Trump has the mental intellect of a “fifth or sixth grader.”

Although Mattis denied the quotation and called the book a work of “fiction,” the defence secretary has often been lauded as the adult in the room by administration critics, the Times noted.

It said Mattis and Trump have butted heads over a multitude of policy issues, including banning transgender people from serving in the military, engaging in military exercises with South Korea, the U.S. stance toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and if withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal was a good decision. The sources told the Times say that Mattis is becoming frustrated with the time spent pushing back against Trump and his policies regarding defence and national security.

“Secretary Mattis is probably one of the most qualified individuals to hold that job,” Democratic Senator Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Times.

Reed said a Mattis departure from the Pentagon “would, first of all, create a disruption in an area where there has been competence and continuity.” - APP/AFP