Trump: 'Everybody and his uncle' and 'her aunt' wants Mattis's job

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE said Wednesday that “everyone and their uncle” wants outgoing 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’s job, before quickly adding "and her aunt" so he "won't be criticized."

“I will say that I've got everybody — everybody and his uncle wants that position,” Trump said. “And also, by the way, everybody and her aunt  just so I won't be criticized for that last statement,” he added.

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Trump's comments came during a surprise trip to Iraq to visit with U.S. troops on Wednesday.

The president indicated that he is in “no rush” to name a permanent successor for Mattis, who announced his resignation last week. 

The president's remarks came as he told reporters at the al-Asad Air Base in Iraq that new acting Pentagon chief Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanThe Mueller report is a deterrent to government service Former UN ambassador: Trump 'should be patient' with North Korea US downplays North Korea's saber rattling MORE "could be there for a long time."

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, was named Mattis’s deputy in July 2017 after serving less than two years in the government.

“So Shanahan was at Boeing and did a great job at Boeing. He was there for a long time,” Trump said, according to a poll report. “Boeing is a hell of a company. He did a great job — very responsible for the success of a certain plane, the Dreamliner. And he's a respected man.”

Mattis resigned following Trump’s announcement that he planned to pull U.S. troops from Syria, claiming victory over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

He wrote in a resignation letter that the president deserved a Defense secretary whose views “align” with Trump’s.