Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report

Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report
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President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Kemp leading Perdue in Georgia gubernatorial primary: poll US ranked 27th least corrupt country in the world MORE is frustrated with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump's 'Enemies List' — end of year edition The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE and has privately disparaged the retired Marine general as a moderate unwilling to bend to Trump's policy positions, according to a new report.

Politico reports that the president has privately coined a new nickname for him, "Moderate-Dog Mattis," a riff off of Mattis's famous "Mad Dog" moniker.

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Trump has begun using the nickname behind closed doors, even as Mattis remains in the administration, Politico reports.

Administration officials tell the news outlet that they expect Mattis to resign or be dismissed following November's midterm elections. But Trump's allies in the GOP-held Senate tell Politico that they are not eager to see Mattis leave.

“He does a great job,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWatch: GOP leaders discuss Biden's first year in office McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks Senate Minority Whip Thune, close McConnell ally, to run for reelection MORE (R-Wyo.) told Politico, adding that Mattis should "absolutely" stay on.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia Biden sparks confusion, cleanup on Russia-Ukraine remarks Republicans say Mayorkas failed to deliver report on evacuated Afghans MORE (R-Okla.), the newly selected head of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, added that whether or not Mattis is replaced could “depend on whether I have anything or not to say about it.”

News of Mattis's possible exit from the administration comes amid the release of journalist Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear: Inside the Trump White House," in which Mattis is quoted as disparaging Trump's understanding of the Korean Peninsula as that of "a fifth- or sixth-grader."

Mattis fired back in a statement following the book's release, writing that "the contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward's book were never uttered by me or in my presence."

Woodward, however, contends that Mattis and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, also a retired Marine general, are lying in their denials about comments attributed to them in the book.

“They are not telling the truth," Woodward told NBC News. “These people, these are political statements to protect their jobs, totally understandable."

The president claimed Wednesday that both Mattis and Kelly were "insulted" by the reporting in Woodward's book, which was released Tuesday to heavy media attention.

“[Mattis] was insulted by the remarks that were attributed to him and he came out with a very strong statement. I assume you read it, I hope you read it last night," Trump said.

"Gen. John Kelly, the same exact thing. He said he was insulted by what it said. He's right here. He's insulted by it, he couldn't believe what they said, and he put out a very strong statement,” Trump added.