Mattis dismisses reports of his exit: 'I love it here'

Mattis dismisses reports of his exit: 'I love it here'
© Greg Nash

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border Pentagon to begin withdrawing hundreds of active duty troops at border Trump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to 0B: reports MORE on Tuesday brushed off reports that he might leave the Trump administration later this year.

"I wouldn't take it seriously at all," Mattis told reporters, advising them to "keep a sense of humor about it."

"How many times have been through this, now, just since I've been here?" Mattis said. "It will die down soon, and the people who started the rumor will be allowed to write the next rumor, too."

"Just the way the town is," he added.

Mattis's comments came days after The New York Times reported that President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill MORE was mulling replacing Mattis after the November midterm elections with someone who was most vocally supportive of his policies.

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The report, which cited multiple current and former officials, noted that Mattis and Trump have butted heads over a number of issues, including barring transgender Americans from serving in the military and ceasing military exercises in South Korea.

Speculation grew that tensions between the two were worsening after an excerpt from journalist Bob Woodward's book emerged earlier this month, quoting Mattis likening Trump's grasp of the situation on the Korean peninsula to that of a "fifth or sixth grader."

Mattis categorically denied having made the statement, calling Woodward's reporting on him "fiction." Trump later praised Mattis's response and also dismissed the book as fictional.

Woodward has said that Mattis was dishonest in denying the remarks he attributed to him.

When asked Tuesday if he ever thought about leaving his position, Mattis responded, "Of course I don't think about leaving, I love it here."

"I'm thinking about retiring here, getting a little place down on the Potomac," he quipped.