The retirement of US Defense Secretary James Mattis raises fears that a voice of prudence and professionalism will be absent from Donald Trump's cabinet. Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump said Defense Secretary James Mattis “could be” leaving, referring to him as “sort of a Democrat,” AFP reported.

Mattis, who is seen as one of Trump’s steadiest and most independent cabinet members, has served as a low-profile counterweight to the president’s often belligerent posture toward US allies.

In an interview to be aired Sunday on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Trump was asked whether he wanted Mattis to leave his post.

“It could be that he is. I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said, according to an excerpt released by CBS. “But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves.”

Trump said Mattis had joined him for lunch two days earlier and the retired Marine four-star general had not told him that he was leaving.

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