Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned earlier this week with a letter critical of Donald Trump’s foreign policy. Now, our president, the master of grudges, has made the decision to fire Mattis immediately rather than letting him finish out his last two months as planned, the Associated Press reports.
Last night, in a characteristic bizarre Twitter post, Trump waffled about whether he should have hired Mattis in the first place. Today, he posted that Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will take over as acting secretary on January 1st.
“[The] Deputy Secretary will continue to serve as directed by the president, and the Department of Defense will remain focused on the defense of the nation,” Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, a spokesman for Shanahan, said.
Trump reportedly didn’t even tell Mattis about the firing personally—he had Secretary of State Mike Pompeo do it for him.
Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan was apparently the deciding factor in Mattis’ departure, according to interpretations of his resignation letter. On Twitter, Trump bemoaned the media’s focus on his move over the Farm and Criminal Justice Reform Bills signed earlier this week.
(For the record, like a broken clock twice a day, our president is right: bringing our troops home from never-ending wars created by neocons and the unnecessary conflicts that followed is, in fact, a good thing.)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and several other prominent Republicans, publicly disagreed with Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.
“We believe that such action at this time is a premature and costly mistake that not only threatens the safety and security of the United States but also emboldens [ISIS],” McConnell and eight other Republican Senators wrote in a letter.
The abrupt decision on Mattis will make the transition between his leadership of the Department of Defense and whoever comes next even rockier, as he will not have the expected two months to prepare the department and hand over his duties. According to AP, it’s uncommon for a Secretary of Defense to resign before their is a replacement in place.