Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump has clearly soured on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and top Republicans and Democrats both tell me his departure would be particularly costly for the White House — and a disturbing sign for outsiders.

The big picture: A former aide who can read Trump like a book told me: "His tone on Mattis is really striking. ... Will be worth watching whether he's just brushing him back and moving on, or if he launches a sustained effort to get him to quit." And if Mattis departs on anything other than the most cordial terms, confirming a successor will be fraught.

But here's something aides may not have told the president: People who know Mattis tell me that he won't stay around to be abused and humiliated like Attorney General Jeff Sessions has.

  • If "Mad Dog" Mattis, as Trump calls him, is convinced that the president is shorting his stock, the retired four-star Marine general could leave abruptly.

After recent rumblings of frayed relations with Mattis, Trump's comments on "60 Minutes" last night sent a signal to the world — including allies who depend on the U.S. for their defense — that the Pentagon chief may be a short-timer.

  • Based on an early clip from CBS News, we told you yesterday about Trump's devastating remark to correspondent Lesley Stahl that Mattis is "sort of a Democrat, if you wanna know the truth. ... He may leave."

But it turns out there was more:

  • Stahl: "Is it true General Mattis said to you, 'The reason for NATO and the reason for all these alliances is to prevent World War III?'"
  • Trump: "No, it's not true. ... Frankly, I like General Mattis. I think I know more about it than he does. And I know more about it from the standpoint of fairness, that I can tell you."
  • Stahl: "I'm gonna try one more time."
  • Trump: "Lesley, you don't have to try again. I know exactly what you're saying. ... I will always be there with NATO, but they have to pay their way. I'm fully in favor of NATO, but I don't wanna be taken advantage of."

Be smart: Mattis is a linchpin of what we call the Committee to Save America — an unofficial alliance of officials who see it as their patriotic duty to protect Trump and the nation from disaster.

  • When I asked a well-wired Democrat how worrisome Mattis' departure would be, he replied: "Number one by far. Super scary."

Go deeper

Trump ramps up culture war attacks

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump's attacks are spreading to sports that are cornerstones of rural, conservative white American life.

Why it matters: The culture war that engulfed the NBA and NFL is reaching other major leagues, with teams that stonewalled activists for years suddenly showing a willingness to listen.

Foreign students could be forced to leave U.S. if colleges move online

Harvard University campus in April 2020. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Foreign college students could be forced to leave the U.S. or transfer schools if their universities move classes entirely online this fall, according to guidance released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday.

Why it matters: Several U.S. colleges and universities — most recently Harvard — have announced plans to move most or all courses online this fall due to coronavirus concerns. Many institutions rely heavily on tuition from international students.

Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 11,520,461 — Total deaths: 535,453 — Total recoveries — 6,231,052Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 2,911,888 — Total deaths: 130,090 — Total recoveries: 906,763 — Total tested: 35,512,916Map.
  3. Public health: Case growth outpacing testing in hotspots.
  4. States: West Virginia becomes latest state to mandate facial coverings in public.
  5. Politics: Cuomo accuses Trump of "enabling" the coronavirus surge — Sen. Chuck Grassley opts out of attending GOP convention over coronavirus concerns.