Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is disputing reports that he is distancing himself from President Donald Trump on issues like North Korea and domestic social tensions. In an impromptu exchange with reporters at the Pentagon, Mattis said it is “ludicrous” for people to conclude from his recent remarks that he is in conflict with Trump. He mentioned, as an example, his comments to American troops during a visit to Jordan last week. He told the troops to “hold the line” until the rest of the country gets back to treating each other with civility.
Some interpreted the remarks as a critique of Trump’s leadership following recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mattis says he was simply striking a theme Trump himself had voiced just hours earlier in a speech on Afghanistan.