Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security MORE said despite never having met John Bolton, he has “no reservations” about working with him as national security adviser.
“[I] look forward to working with him, no reservations, no concerns at all,” Mattis told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon when asked about President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE's new pick for national security adviser.
“Last time I checked he’s an American. I can work with an American, OK? I’m not in the least bit concerned with that sort of thing.”
Mattis also said Bolton has plans to visit the Pentagon later this week and the two will “sit down together.”
The president wrote on Twitter last Thursday evening that Bolton, the hawkish former George W. Bush administration official, will take over for outgoing national security adviser H.R. McMaster on April 9.
Bolton served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under the Bush administration and as under secretary of State in the lead up to the Iraq War.
Mattis and Bolton have differed on a number of positions, the starkest being North Korea. While Mattis has advocated diplomacy in dealing with Pyongyang, Bolton has pushed for preemptively striking the isolated nation.
Bolton argued in September on Fox News that the “only diplomatic option left is to end the regime in North Korea” and “anybody who thinks more diplomacy ... is just giving North Korea more time to increase its nuclear arsenal.”
The New York Times reported earlier this week that prior to Trump’s announcement Mattis told staffers he would find it difficult to work with Bolton.
When asked about his and Bolton’s differing worldviews, Mattis replied that he hopes “there’s some different worldviews, that’s the normal thing you want unless you want groupthink.”
He added, “It’s going to be a partnership, we are going to go forward.”