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Mattis disputes he's leaving post, says Trump with him "100 percent"

During an overseas flight to Vietnam, Mattis responded to the CBS interview, saying, "I'm on his team."
In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis speaks at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Trump's top military chief James Mattis is responding to the president's suggestion on "60 Minutes" that he could leave the administration amid ongoing concerns of chaos in the White House. During an overseas flight to Vietnam, Mattis responded to the CBS interview, saying, "I'm on his team."

"We have never talked about me leaving. And as you can see right here, we are on our way, we just continue doing our job," Mattis told reporters Tuesday. The defense secretary's comments come after Mr. Trump told CBS' Lesley Stahl that there were "some people" in his administration that he's "not thrilled with." Asked by Stahl if Mattis was going to be leaving, Mr. Trump replied: "Well, I don't know. He hasn't told me that."

"I have a very good relationship with him. I had lunch with him two days ago. I have a very good relationship with him. It could be that he is. I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth," Mr. Trump said of the retired Marine Corps general. "But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That's Washington."

Mr. Trump dismissed reports of chaos in the White House as "fake news," but said, "I'm changing things around. And I'm entitled to. I have people now on standby that will be phenomenal. They'll come into the administration, they'll be phenomenal."

Mattis said that he had not tuned into the interview when it aired on Sunday, but had read about the president's comments in the newspaper. The former general sidestepped reporters' questions if he was indeed a registered Democrat, telling those on board that he's "never registered for any political party" in his career.

"My portfolio is bipartisan by its very basis and that is the protection of the United States, that's what President Trump has told me to do, and I eagerly carry that out," he said, adding, "So that's where I stand. That defines me."

According to Mattis, during a phone call as the president was en route to Florida to tour damage sustained from Hurricane Michael, their first conversation since the "60 Minutes" interview, the president later expressed to Mattis: "I'm with you 100 percent."

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