President Trump: Well, I don't know.
The Republican Trump, in an interview airing Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes" news show, said he has no indication that Mattis is leaving, but added, "It could be that he is".
"I have a very good relationship with him", Mr. Trump told CBS' Lesley Stahl.
"I'm not going to ask it again", she said, giving up. It could be that he is.
"I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth", Trump said in the interview slated to air Sunday night. We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment. That the President's vanishingly rare appearance on a nonpartisan news program had resulted in a spectacle in which randomly assorted questions were bulldozed by a man eager to speak, and in which the interviewer generally left the viewers to decide what those answers meant without the benefit of meaningful follow-up, made the point clear. "Everybody. People leave. That's Washington".
Lieutenant General HR McMaster was replaced by Bolton in April, while John Kelly, the White House chief of staff and also a retired four-star general, is reported to have lost influence with the mercurial president.
STAHL: Is it true General Mattis said to you, "The reason for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the reason for all these alliances is to prevent World War III?"
President Donald Trump: I think something's happening. "Why should I pledge to you?"
Trump also accused scientists who say hurricanes are getting more frequent and intense because of climate change of having "a very big political agenda". Lesley Stahl grilled Trump like a cheeseburger over the now infamous campaign rally. where Trump suggested Dr. Ford was a liar, to the delight of thousands who cackled their approval.
Stahl: You are, you are.
"They can do what they - I will tell you this", Trump said. I don't have to pledge to you.
Mattis, seen as one of the steadiest but also more independent members of Trump's cabinet, has served as a low-profile counterweight to the president in his often abrasive treatment of United States allies. "In the meantime, I'm president and you're not".
In her post-interview reflections, Stahl said there was one question he "really didn't want to answer". ("I don't want to hurt jobs", he explained.) Trump acknowledged that son-in-law Jared Kushner gave Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a ring to personally inquire into the country's possible culpability and even murder of Khashoggi.
"Trump is a refreshing reminder that the guy that's in the White House is another human being", says Louis Rossetto, the co-founder of Wired and author of the new book Change Is Good: A Story of the Heroic Era of the Internet.