Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report

Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE is frustrated with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation Trump's nastiest break-ups: A look at the president's most fiery feuds Shanahan orders new restrictions on sharing of military operations with Congress: report 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 BarrassoTrump boxed in on trade Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020 MORE (R-Wyo.) told Politico, adding that Mattis should "absolutely" stay on.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation Overnight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Senate panel rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps, advances defense bill that backfills wall money 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.