Trump Under Pressure Not to Dismiss Mattis

Lawmakers are pressing President Donald Trump not to fire Defense Secretary James Mattis, as such a move would be “very inappropriate and would not be helpful to national security.”

Senator Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he believed other members of Congress would also push back on an effort to get rid of Mattis. His comments were backed by House Armed Services Committee ranking Democrat Adam Smith, who deemed it “critical” that the defense secretary keeps his job.

“We’d be better off in national security. He seems to have an ability to work with the President while reining in his worst tendencies,” Smith said, according to The Hill.

The lawmakers’ comments follow an interview last week when President Trump called Mattis “sort of a Democrat” and said he knew more about the NATO alliance than him. Trump said his relationship with Mattis was good but added the defense secretary may eventually leave the administration.

“I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington,” Trump said.

Mattis pushed back on reports about his leaving, saying that the President was “100 percent” with him and that the two had never discussed the matter.

President Trump and the Pentagon chief have differed on some issues, including withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and military exercises with South Korea. As a result, some U.S. officials have speculated lately that Mattis could lose his job shortly after the November midterms.

Both GOP and Democratic lawmakers now worry that dismissing Mattis, who is generally considered a moderating influence in Trump’s administration, would lead to instability at its highest ranks. Mattis is believed to have so far kept Trump’s most controversial military views in check.

“If he leaves, you inject a whole issue of uncertainty,” Reed told reporters this week. “At this moment, with the changes that we know are coming in [the Defense Department], continuity is absolutely critical and Secretary Mattis is that continuity,” he added.

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