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Rep. Mac Thornberry to Trump: Keep Mattis ‘as long as you possibly can’

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, then-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), questions senior military leaders during a HASC hearing on Capitol Hill, March 7, 2017. (DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)
September 26, 2018

Amid rumors of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ potential departure from the Trump Administration, one member of Congress is calling on him to stay.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters that President Trump should keep the defense secretary for “as long as possible,” The Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.

“The president does not ask my advice. If he were to ask my advice, I would say keep Secretary Mattis there as long as you possibly can,” Thornberry said.

“I think he is a great secretary of defense who has tremendous credibility on Capitol Hill, around the world. I think he has done a really great job, and I would do everything I could to keep him there as long as possible,” Thornberry added.

Rumors have been swirling for months of growing contention between President Trump and Mattis, leading many to believe Mattis will soon leave the Pentagon one way or another.

The rumors particularly intensified during Sept., after the release of journalist Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” which alleges that Mattis criticized the President to fellow colleagues, among other negative portrayals of the Trump Administration.

Trump and Mattis have repeatedly refuted the rumors.

President Trump said of Mattis, “He’ll stay right there. We’re very happy with him. We’re having a lot of victories.”

In an official Department of Defense statement, Mattis issued a rebuttal to Woodward’s claims, calling the book a work of fiction with no credibility. “In serving in this administration, the idea that I would show contempt for the elected Commander-in-Chief, President Trump, or tolerate disrespect to the office of the President from within our Department of Defense, is a product of someone’s rich imagination,” Mattis’ statement said.

Two weeks later, he laughed off the rumors before a group of reporters outside the Pentagon. “I’m thinking about doing my job each day,” Mattis explained, adding not to take the rumors seriously.

“It’ll die down, just like how many times [have] we been through this now just since I’ve been here?” he added. “It’ll die down soon, and the people who started the rumor will be allowed to write the next rumor too. Just the way the town is. Keep a sense of humor about it.”

Mattis added, “Of course I don’t think about leaving, I love it here! I’m thinking about retiring here, getting a little place down on the Potomac.”

Rep. Thornberry said he didn’t know what Mattis’ fate could be. “I think he’ll go back to Washington state someday; I hope it’s at the end of the administration.”