Tags: Trump Administration | mattis | trump | rapport

Mattis Keeping Matters 'Steady' Through Rapport With Trump

Mattis Keeping Matters 'Steady' Through Rapport With Trump
(AP)

By    |   Saturday, 30 December 2017 09:49 AM

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who keeps out of the media spotlight and employs a personal rapport with President Donald Trump, has leveraged a relationship that has allowed him to keep military and national policies on track, according to administration officials and a copy of the retired general's daily schedule.

"He recognizes that there’s a lot of turbulence out there and that his role as the head of the Defense Department is to make sure that our ship, so to speak, stays steady," said a senior Trump administration official, who was not authorized to discuss publicly the relationship between Trump and Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, told Politico.  "He is very deliberate and judicious. His mantra is 'steady as she goes.'"

Mattis, the first retired general serving as defense secretary in several decades, meets frequently with the president, according to his schedule for the first half of 2017. The Pentagon released Mattis' schedule recently following a watchdog group's Freedom of Information Act request.

Trump still refers to the defense secretary as "General Mattis," and defers to his judgment on many issues, including allowing him to restore military control back to its leaders, following complaints that it was being micromanaged by President Barack Obama's White House.

Mattis is also often included in meetings with foreign leaders, and there have been no public complaints from Trump about him, as there have been about other key administration leaders, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The defense secretary has been a calming force following many of Trump's actions, including stressing how diplomacy is important when dealing with North Korea. He also played a key role in keeping the U.S.-led coalition going against the Islamic State after Trump issued a travel ban barring people from Iraq and Libya, two of the key partners in the group, from entering the United States.

Further, notes Politico, Mattis worked to maintain relationships with NATO after Trump's comments about the alliance, and has delayed the president's ban on transgender military personnel.

However, Mattis downplays reports that he and Trump are at odds, while keeping a low profile.

Retired Army Col. Steve Warren, Mattis' communications aide until mid-July, said that's because the defense secretary does not want to put the access he has with Trump in jeopardy.

"If your name is in the paper, you put yourself at risk with this president," Warren said. "[Mattis is] acutely aware of that."

According to the schedule released by the Pentagon, Mattis has interacted with the president more than 30 times in settings involving just himself and Trump or with just a few other aides in the room. The meetings included seven dinners, including one in Trump's private residence on April 10, and two one-on-one meetings with Trump.

The senior administration official said Mattis meets biweekly with Trump, usually joined by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Longtime observers say Mattis provides a reliable buffer for Trump's impulsive actions.

"The fact that we’ve been able to avoid, at least up to this point, a major crisis — I think the responsibility for that lies largely with the national security team and particularly someone like Jim Mattis," said Leon Panetta, who served as secretary of defense and CIA director for former President Barack Obama in a recent interview.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who keeps out of the media spotlight and employs a personal rapport with President Donald Trump, has leveraged a relationship that has allowed him to keep military and national policies on track, according to administration officials...
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2017-49-30
Saturday, 30 December 2017 09:49 AM
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