Asked during a "60 Minutes" interview airing Sunday whether Mattis will step down, Trump says Mattis hasn't told him that. "At some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That's Washington". He has often assailed Attorney General Jeff Sessions but declined to fire him for removing himself from oversight of the lengthy investigation of whether Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with Russian Federation and whether Trump as president obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.
"I'm changing things around, and I'm entitled to", President Trump said. "It could be that he is" leaving, Mr. Trump said, responding to a question about whether he wants Mr. Mattis to leave. "But General Mattis is a good guy, we get along very well".
The full interview is scheduled to air on CBS on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
He said that while he was satisfied with the performance of certain members of his administration, there are others "that I'm not thrilled with".
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. I have people now on standby that will be phenomenal.
Stahl noted the Trump administration has been marked with record turnover of staff. Trump said he has a "great cabinet", including people he's "not thrilled with" and others he's "beyond thrilled with".
One factor thought to have darkened Mattis' prospects is this year's arrival in the White House of Mira Ricardel, who now has the powerful post of deputy national security adviser and is believed to dislike Mattis, current and former officials have told Reuters.
Mattis has dismissed reports of his potential departure in the past. "They'll be phenomenal", Trump said.