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 MattisTrump learns to love acting officials Shanahan says he's 'never favored' Boeing as acting Defense chief Trump moves to install loyalists 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 TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll 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.