"Not the way I would deal with people," former Defense Secretary Gates says of Trump

Asked about reports that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen considered resigning, after President Trump berated her at a cabinet meeting, Robert Gates characterized President Trump's management style as "not the way I would deal with people."

The New York Times reported the president has grown increasingly angry with the Department of Homeland Security head, unloading Thursday in a "lengthy tirade" on Nielsen over a lack of progress on combating illegal immigration.

"That's not the way I think I ever did deal with people, and I did fire people, very senior people," the former CIA director and defense secretary told Margaret Brennan in an interview to air Sunday on "Face the Nation."

"I mean that's the way he is. That's the way he deals with people. I mean, let's just say I have a totally different style, but he is president of the United States," said Gates.

Brennan sat down with Gates for a wide-ranging interview on the campus of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he serves as the school's chancellor.

"Different presidents deal with the people that work with them in different ways, the first president I worked for, Lyndon Johnson, did a lot of yelling and swearing at his senior officials," Gates added later, "in his own way so did -- so did Richard Nixon."

Asked to assess President Trump's embattled chief of staff John Kelly, who once served as Gates' aide, Gates praised Kelly for having brought order to the White House "pretty well."

Gates said also he was not surprised about "the churn" in the cabinet "for a president who had no experience in government."

"I live a continent away from Washington, D.C., not by accident," Gates said, "but my impression is that since John got there, that there has been more order, a more orderly process in terms of staff meetings, in terms of coordination within the White House and so on."

"The sooner things settle down, and there's a modicum of an organizational process that goes on in terms of policymaking, I think that's better for the country," Gates told Brennan.


More of Margaret Brennan's interview of Robert Gates airs Sunday on "Face the Nation."

For the latest from "Face the Nation," follow the show on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.