Trump once again used Twitter to announce yet another resignation of a key staff member, this time Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis. “General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” Trump wrote.
This comes directly on the heels of Trump’s Twitter announcement that he will be pulling the troops out of Syria. The decision went against the advice of the Pentagon and did not go over well with much of Congress, including his own party.
I urge you to follow sound military advice when it comes to withdrawing from Syria and the fight against ISIS.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 20, 2018
Withdrawing from Syria is a shared goal but the ‘When and How’ – matter.
Mattis’ resignation letter is already online, and it’s quite a read. In the letter, Mattis seems to state that his views are not so much aligned with Trump’s. “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 letter reads. This and the timing has most of Twitter in agreement that this resignation happened because of Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.
According to the New York Times, this is exactly why he resigned.
“Officials said Mr. Mattis went to the White House on Thursday afternoon in a last attempt to convince Mr. Trump to keep American troops in Syria, where they have been fighting the Islamic State. He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result.”
Mattis says Trump deserves a Secretary of Defense who agrees that the US should wreck our alliances, disrespect our friends, and turn a blind eye to authoritarians.— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) December 20, 2018
Trump's highest-profile appointee is torching him on the way out. I've never seen anything like it.
Mattis is the last of the original group that Trump referred to as his “generals” leading up to his inauguration. Everyone else that Trump originally appointed to key roles such as Chief of Staff has resigned, voluntarily or not. Mattis was also the person that some claimed would be a check on Trump’s more erratic and impulsive behavior. Because that is something that was needed for a person elected to be the President of the United States.
Trump did not say when he will be naming a successor or who that person might be.
Political experts appear more alarmed than usual at this latest resignation announcement, as Mattis was considered to be something of a “rock,” presumably meaning someone who was actually stable and could deal with the kind of thing that might make others run screaming from the building.
It's hard to overstate the magnitude of Mattis's resignation. The world viewed him as the rock. As crazy as things appeared to be in the Oval, allies took comfort in the fact that Mattis was in charge at the Pentagon. He will be gone Feb. 28.— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) December 20, 2018
Last fall, Corker said three men — Tillerson, Mattis & Kelly — “help separate our country from chaos.”— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) December 20, 2018
By February, all three will be gone.
Nancy Pelosi reacts to Mattis resignation: “I’m sad. I’m shaken by it. I had so much respect for him,” she told us in the Capitol. She said that she read his “beautiful letter”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 20, 2018
The most respected member of the Trump administration, Mad Dog Mattis, just stood up and said the country is headed in the wrong direction. He then quit.— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) December 20, 2018
I can not stress how pivotal a moment this is.
There is no way Trump will finish his first term. I’m certain of it.
Jim Mattis is gone. Stephen Miller remains. God help America. And the world. https://t.co/mceqnnA19F— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) December 20, 2018
Mattis’ resignation letter says he’s grateful for the opportunity to serve “the nation and our men and women in uniform” but does, pointedly, not say the president.— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) December 20, 2018
This is an unmistakeable letter of warning. https://t.co/OwZ2av3Ptb
Secretary Mattis protects this nation against the worst instincts of a President who puts our national security at risk. His announced departure should alarm every American.— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) December 20, 2018
It says a lot that a man with the nickname “Mad Dog” was seen as the last bastion of sanity in the White House. With a looming government shutdown, a suffering stock market, and chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border, 2019 is shaping up to be quite a year.