BEDMINSTER: US President-elect Donald Trump praised James Mattis as a potential defence secretary Sunday, calling the retd military commander a “true general’s general” as he prepared to meet another batch of possible cabinet members.
Trump’s recent choices for other key posts — attorney general, national security adviser and chief White House strategist — have come under fire on civil rights grounds from Democrats and other critics.
But Trump has also moved to mend fences with moderate Republicans as he goes about building a new administration, interviewing one-time foe Mitt Romney for secretary of state, and inviting his ousted transition chief Chris Christie for a sit-down Sunday at his Trump National Golf Club.
The 70-year-old Republican billionaire promised reporters they would “hear some things” after a second marathon day of meetings at his New Jersey golf retreat, a 90-minute drive from Manhattan.
“General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General’s General!” Trump said on Twitter.
The 66-year-old Mattis, who called Trump “the real deal” after their meeting on Saturday, is a retired Marine Corps general who led the US Central Command from 2010-2013, overseeing the US withdrawal from Iraq and a surge in Afghanistan.
A colorful combat commander and voracious reader, he has been quoted as saying, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”
Chris Christie, who threw his support to Trump after his own bid for the Republican presidential nomination fizzled, appeared back in favour after being pushed out as transition chief.
The New Jersey governor has been under a cloud over a scandal involving the closing of a major bridge linking New York and New Jersey, allegedly to punish a Democratic mayor. Two former Christie aides were recently convicted in the case.
Asked on Saturday if “Bridgegate” disqualified the governor from serving in the cabinet, Trump retorted: “We like Chris a lot.”.