Amid rumors of his political affiliation, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis set the record straight – he’s apolitical.
While en route to Vietnam, Mattis denounced the rumors when he told reporters, “I’ve never registered for any political party,” according to a CNBC News report on Monday.
Mattis’ answer came after an anecdotal delivery describing his apolitical stance both in the military and now as a member of the President’s administration.
Mattis said, “In the U.S. military we are proudly apolitical. By that, I mean that in our duties, we were brought up to obey the elected Commander in Chief, whoever that is.”
“I’ve never registered for any political party,” Defense Secretary Mattis tells reporters after Trump speculated that he’s “sort of a Democrat.” pic.twitter.com/nLEmkqNIRV
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 16, 2018
A reporter had asked Mattis if he was a Democrat – the question was prompted after a “60 Minutes” interview with President Trump on Sunday during which Trump said of Mattis, “I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth. But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave.”
“Since I was in the military longer than some of you have been alive, I have seen Republicans and Democrats come and go,” Mattis explained. “Where am I today? I’m a member of the President’s administration.”
“And you have seen that President Trump’s military policies, security policies, reaping significant bipartisan support,” he continued. “When you think 83 percent of the U.S. Congress voting the same way on an issue put forward by the Republican President, you can see that my portfolio is bipartisan by its very basis, and that is the protection of the United States.”
“Where am I today? I’m a member of the president’s administration. And you have seen President Donald Trump’s military policies, security policies, reaping significant bipartisan support,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) October 16, 2018
“That’s what President Trump has told me to do, and I eagerly carry that out. … So that’s where I stand. That defines me,” he added.
Reporters also asked Mattis for his thoughts on President Trump’s “60 Minutes” interview, to which Mattis replied that he hadn’t seen it. He also refuted rumors of his departure.
“I’m on his team. We have never talked about me leaving and as you can see right here, we’re on our way. We just continue doing our job,” Mattis said.
“We continue in the Department of Defense to do our job. It’s no problem,” he added.
Speculation has swirled for months over Mattis’ possible departure. He has repeatedly denied the possibility and continues to express commitment to his role in the administration.
Last month, he told reporters outside the Pentagon not to take rumors of his departure seriously.
“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,” he had said.