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Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report

Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoaquín Castro: Trump would be 'in court right now' if he weren't the president or 'privileged' Trump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference Comey reveals new details on Russia probe during House testimony MORE is frustrated with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump attends Army-Navy game Overnight Defense: Senate Armed Services chair eyes Russia, China threats | Pushes Trump not to cut defense budget | Mattis says US looking for more Khashoggi evidence Mattis: Investigation into killing of Khashoggi is ongoing 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 BarrassoWhite House jumps into fight over energy subsidies Clock ticks down on GOP Congress Trump, first lady pay respects to Bush in Capitol MORE (R-Wyo.) told Politico, adding that Mattis should "absolutely" stay on.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeInhofe tells military crowd: 'Don't trust the media' GOP senators introduce bill to give Trump billion for border wall Inhofe: 'I cringe a little bit' when Trump tweets 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.