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Trump Picks Mattis for Defense Secretary: Report

Although no official decision has been made regarding the the appointment of the Secretary of Defense yet, several anonymous reports state that retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis may occupy the position.

The Hill reports:

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the Pentagon, according to multiple reports Thursday afternoon.

An official announcement of Mattis’ Defense secretary appointment is expected early next week, according to The Washington Post, who first reported the pick, citing unnamed people familiar with the decision.

Trump transition team spokesman Jason Miller denied the reports on Twitter, writing: “No decision has been made yet with regard to Secretary of Defense.”

Spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday that no more Cabinet announcements were planned this week.

Mattis, who retired in spring 2013, most recently served as head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the U.S. wars in the Middle East.

He now works as a national security fellow at the California-based Hoover Institution.

During his time in the military, Mattis, who’s garnered nicknames such as “Mad Dog” and “Warrior Monk,” became a highly respected leader known for his blunt and colorful quotes.

At the end of his tenure, he clashed with the Obama administration over his lack of support for the Iran nuclear deal.

Mattis has been seen as a top contender for the job since he met with Trump earlier this month.

After the meeting, Trump heaped praised on Mattis, calling him the “real deal” and a “brilliant, wonderful man.”

Trump also suggested in an interview with The New York Times that Mattis may have changed his views on waterboarding, saying he was surprised when Mattis told him it was an ineffective interrogation method.

Before Mattis can take the job, Congress would need to pass a waiver to circumvent a law that requires the Defense secretary to be off active duty for at least seven years.

The law is meant to maintain civilian control of the military that is seen as vital in a democracy and has only been waived once, when Gen. George Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.

But defense leaders on the Hill respect Mattis and are expected to push for the waiver. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he would write the bill that gives Mattis the waiver.

“General Mattis has a clear understanding of the many challenges facing the Department of Defense, the U.S. military, and our national security. I hope he has an opportunity to serve America again,” McCain said last week after Trump’s meeting with Mattis.

Photo credit: CNN/Screenshot.

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