Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is on the defensive, and reportedly not been included in President Trump’s recent major decisions.
Mattis was not aware beforehand of Trump’s plans to leave the internationally agreed Iran nuclear deal, end military drills in South Korea or start a space-focused branch of the armed forces, according to NBC.
The longtime military man had been seen as a moderating force in the administration, and had taken actions such as slowing down a ban on transgender troops as the Trump measure has been challenged in court.
Current and former officials told NBC, however, that the commander-in-chief believes his Cabinet member looks down on him. They were also reportedly split over the appointment of hardline National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Officials told the network that the two were never particularly close, but that a previous habit of multiple phone calls a day is now over.
It is not clear if they lack of closeness has impacted recent decision as Mattis had been seen, along with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as persuading Trump to stay in the Iran deal.
Mattis reportedly learned of the end of the U.S. part in the deal from a colleague.
The Secretary was also suprised by the “Space Force” announcement, which came after he had written to Congress in October that he was opposed to the creation of a new force when the military is trying to save money.