If their public statements are any indication, President Donald Trump and his secretary of Defense are quietly at odds with each other over several crucial national security policies, including how to deal with Russia.
Throughout his tenure in the Trump administration, Defense Secretary James Mattis, a revered Marine with a military career spanning four decades, has either downplayed or appeared out of step with the president's swift policy directives.
For instance, Mattis appeared to be a non-entity in Trump's highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin unlike Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security advisor John Bolton. The Pentagon chief said he spoke with White House chief of staff John Kelly and Bolton after Trump concluded his trip to Helsinki – but he didn't say anything about whether he spoke with the president.
"I have talked immediately after the Helsinki summit, both the chief of staff and the national security advisor called me, I wouldn't say immediately but as soon as they got free," Mattis told reporters Friday.
Mattis has downplayed any intimation that he and Trump don't see eye-to-eye. He referred to reports that he and the president weren't on the same page as "fiction."
Dana White, Secretary Mattis' assistant for public affairs, responded to CNBC's request for comment on the matter:
"Secretary Mattis is the principal advisor to the president on matters of national defense. The secretary routinely consults and advises the president, fellow cabinet members, and the National Security Council on a variety of topics, to include implementing the president's National Security Strategy. The secretary's priorities are aligned with the administration. He remains focused on building a more lethal force, strengthening our alliances and reforming the way we do business."
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.
Yet while the Defense secretary has denied that the Pentagon's stances are inconsistent with the White House's, there are several key issues where evidence points to the contrary. Here's a roundup of subjects where Mattis and Trump have shown some stark policy differences.