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The relationship between President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis may have "soured" to the point of no return, The New York Times reported on Saturday — but the White House denied the former general is on the outs with his boss.
In its report, The Times cited more then a dozen administration and congressional officials saying that national security aides such as Mattis have effectively been iced out by Trump ahead of the 2018 congressional midterm elections. Trump is reportedly souring on Mattis based on policy differences on a number of fronts, and appears resentful of unflattering comparisons between the two men, the publication reported.
In addition, the president is reportedly looking to replace the four star general with someone "who would be more vocally supportive than Mr. Mattis, who is vehemently protective of the American military against perceptions it could be used for political purposes," the Times reported.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House's top spokeswoman, told CNBC in an email that the report was "completely untrue."
The reported fray in the relationship comes after the president and Mattis seemed to have an unbreakable bond, and shared burger dinners at the White House early in the general's tenure.
The president, who publicly referred to his top security adviser as "Mad Dog," could be influenced by the latest political book to rock Washington. "Fear," the latest book by author and famed political journalist Bob Woodward, attributed several quotes to Mattis that were highly critical of Trump.
In one instance, Woodward reports that Mattis told a group of confidants "Secretaries of defense don't always get to choose the president they work for," and that Trump acted like he had an understanding of 'a fifth or sixth grader."
Mattis, however, has rebuked Woodward's book calling it "fiction" and a "product of someone's rich imagination."