Defense Secretary James Mattis out on January 1 as angry Trump orders him gone after resignation letter seen as rebuke of his presidency
- President Donald Trump is pushing Defense Secretary James Mattis out of his administration as of January 1
- Mattis’ resignation letter gave a February 28 exit date
- Trump is said to be angry over how Mattis’ letter was seen as a rebuke to him
- Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will be named as acting secretary
- Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday the relationship between Trump and Mattis had been ‘fraying’
President Donald Trump will push Defense Secretary James Mattis out of his administration on January 1 amid anger at how Mattis’ resignation letter was seen as a rebuke of his presidency.
Mattis was supposed to remain on the job until Feb. 28.
Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will be named as acting secretary.
‘I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!,’ Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon.
President Donald Trump (left) is pushing Defense Secretary James Mattis (right) out of his administration as of January 1
Trump announced Mattis’ departure on Sunday
Mattis named late February as his exit in his resignation letter, calling it ‘a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events.’
His letter also noted his views were not aligned with the president’s.
This will be the third acting Cabinet member in Trump’s administration: Matthew Whitaker is acting attorney general; David Bernhardt will take over as acting Secretary of Interior with Ryan Zinke exit at end of the year; and now Shanahan at Pentagon.
Mick Mulvaney has been named acting chief of staff, which the Trump White House classifies as Cabinet level position.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said in a statement Sunday that ‘the secretary of defense serves at the pleasure of the President. The department remains focused on national security.’
Mulvaney said on Sunday – before Mattis’ early departure was announced – that the relationship between Trump and Mattis had been ‘fraying.’
‘Look, let’s be honest with each other. I think the relationship between these two men have been fraying. I think the president no longer relied on Mattis to be able to deliver the president’s vision,’ he said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’
He noted on ABC’s ‘This Week’ that the two men ‘didn’t have the same world view. You heard the president say a couple weeks ago, I think, in an interview that he recognized that Mr. Mattis – he called him a Democrat.’
He added: ‘So no, I don’t think it was a surprise.’
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Tensions have long said to be thick between the two men. Mattis’ departure brought groans from Trump critics, who claimed one of the few ‘grownups’ in the Trump administration was leaving.
Democrats also used Mattis’ fiery resignation letter, which he told aides to distribute, as their new cause celebrity.
But lawmakers and the defense industry were also rattled by the departure.
‘I was one of many senators who privately sat down with General Mattis and said, ‘Please stay, stay as long as you possibly can,’ Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.’ ‘We desperately need your mature voice, your patriotism in the room when this president’s making life or death decisions about national security. But it obviously reached a breaking point.’
He added: ‘It breaks my heart that he’s going to step aside. We counted on him to be there and to stop this president from his worst impulse.’
When Mattis announced his exit on Thursday, the onetime Marine Corps general did it on his own terms – listing the ways he’s incompatible with his commander-in-chief.
Chief among them is that Mattis believes Trump hasn’t tended the diplomatic garden of international alliances, leaving the United States unable to defend its interests overseas.
Trump is said to be angry at how Mattis’ (left) resignation letter is been seen as a rebuke of his presidency
Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan will be named acting Pentagon chief
And the timing of his announcement was unmistakably linked to the president’s announcement Thursday of a troop pullout from Syria that the two men disagreed about.
‘Because you have the right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects,’ Mattis wrote after his litany, ‘I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.’
‘One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships,’ he wrote.
‘While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.’
Mattis also declared that America ‘must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours.’
Trump has swiped at critics of his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria by saying if anyone else brought soldiers home they would be branded a ‘hero’.
In a series of fiery tweets Saturday night, the president also dismissed the top U.S. envoy in the fight against ISIS as an ‘Obama appointee’ who he claimed he did not know.
President Donald Trump (left) Saturday dismissed special envoy Brett McGurk (right) has an ‘Obama’ appointee’ who he didn’t know and was set to stand down a month from now. This follows McGurk’s decision to quit his role two months earlier than expected
Trump said he had an ‘interesting relationship with Mattis and he had given him resources
Trump launched a tirade on Twitter (pictured) against top US officials who resigned within days of each other after they disagreed with his decision to pull troops out of Syria
Earlier Saturday, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk announced his resignation in the wake of Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and just days after Mattis’s announced departure.
McGurk was to leave the role in February but moved up his departure date by two months to December 31 after very publicly stating that the move to pull American forces at this time could result in a ‘possibly catastrophic outcome’.
Responding to the news , Trump tweeted: ‘Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015.
‘Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!.
‘If anybody but your favorite President, Donald J. Trump, announced that, after decimating ISIS in Syria, we were going to bring our troops back home (happy & healthy), that person would be the most popular hero in America. With me, hit hard instead by the Fake News Media. Crazy!
The veteran diplomat, who got his start in the administration of George W. Bush and was appointed to his current post by Barack Obama, now joins Mattis in an administration exodus of experienced national security officials.
Trump also fired a parting shot at Mattis, the most respected foreign policy official in the administration who will leave by the end of February.
He tweeted: ‘When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance.
‘Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should. Interesting relationship-but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S’.
President Donald Trump (2nd L) and Secretary of Defense James Mattis (2nd R) participate in a moment of silence for the late President George H. W. Bush as they attend the Army-Navy game in early December
The former United States Marine Corps general commanded the 1st Marine Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
He later served as the Commander of United States Central Command under Obama.
Trump made waves Wednesday at the Pentagon by announcing his withdrawal of America’s mid-size military contingent stationed in Syria.
The decision, reached Tuesday in a small group meeting at the White House, didn’t include consultation with Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were in the room. Both objected.
Trump declared this week that his administration has won the war against the ISIS terror army, even though the Pentagon has said the group still has 30,000 soldiers in Iraq and Syria.
Mattis has long been rumored to be on the way out – talk that Trump declined to shoot down.
Asked in October during a ’60 Minutes’ interview whether his Pentagon chief might be on his way out, President Trump responded: ‘Well, I don’t know. He hasn’t told me that.’
‘I have a very good relationship with him. It could be that he is. I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth,’ he said.
‘But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.’
Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s letter of resignation
December 20, 2018
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in con?ict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model gaining veto authority over other nations? economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confimed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability Within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
James N. Mattis
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