“How many times have we been through this, now, just since I’ve been here? It will die down soon, and the people who started the rumor will be allowed to write the next rumor, too,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.
“Just the way the town is,” he added. “Keep a sense of humor about it.”
In his new book, investigative reporter Bob Woodward claims Mattis has often questioned Trump’s judgment and likened his understanding to that of a 10- or 11-year-old child.
Mattis, however, has denied talking to Woodward and insisted he never compared Trump to a child.
“I wouldn’t take it seriously at all,” Mattis said.
“It’s like most of those kinds of things in this town. Somebody cooks up a headline, they then call to a normally chatty class of people, they find a couple of other things to put in, they add the rumor, somebody on the other coast starts writing the same thing — next thing you know you’ve got a story,” he said.
The Pentagon chief added he has no intention of stepping down.
“Of course I don’t think about leaving, I love it here,” the retired Marine general said.
“I’m thinking about retiring right here, getting a little place down on the Potomac (River),” he said.
The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times on Saturday published accounts of the increasingly frayed relationship between Trump and Mattis whom the president used to revere.
Citing multiple administration and congressional officials, the reports said Mattis may either step down or be fired ahead of the upcoming elections in November due to growing differences with President Trump on a number of fronts.
The president is looking to replace the Pentagon chief with someone “who would be more vocally supportive than Mr. Mattis, who is vehemently protective of the American military against perceptions it could be used for political purposes,” the Times reported.