Though speculation about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ replacement was running rampant even before excerpts from Bob Woodward’s “Fear” were published, White House officials now think he may leave sooner rather than later, according to a Wednesday Washington Post report.
In excerpts from the book, which Mattis has denied, the defense secretary said that President Donald Trump acts like and has the understanding of a “fifth or sixth grader,” as he disregarded Trump’s extreme foreign policy orders.
“The speculation about who replaces Mattis is now more real than ever,” a senior White House official told the Washington Post. “The President has always respected him. But now he has every reason to wonder what Mattis is saying behind his back. The relationship has nowhere to go but down, fast.”
As Mattis has already outlasted many of his peers in the administration, political observers expected him to leave even before the book’s publication. The leaked alleged insults may just hurry the process along.
Reportedly at the top of the short list of possible Mattis replacements is Gen. Jack Keane, described by one White House official as a “more partisan Mattis” who is generally respected by Congress and liked by Trump due to his commanding presence on TV.
Per the Washington Post, other figures on the list are Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AL), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former Treasury Department official David McCormick and former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO). However, officials may not want to risk Cotton’s open seat and Graham has said that he has no desire to serve in the Cabinet.
Keane on the other hand, along with his cable news persona, is a big proponent of “reinvestment” in the military via heavy funding, a position that Trump also holds.