President Donald Trump announced in a Sunday Tweet that James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, will leave his position on January 1st. That is two months earlier than the announced departure date in his resignation letter.
Mattis was very critical of Trump and many believe that is the reason for his quick departure.
Trump also announced that Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, will take over as acting Defense Secretary.
“Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing,” Trump tweeted. “He will be great!”
It was reported in the New York Times on Sunday that Trump was angry with the Mattis resignation. The president was seeking to expedite his leaving. Mattis resigned after the president seemed to unilaterally withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria against the advice of the Pentagon. After Trump announced his plans to remove the troops in Syria, he also ordered the withdrawal of 7,000 troops from Afghanistan.
Aides in the Trump administration told The Times that the president became furious after Mattis’ critical resignation letter. The news outlet also reported that Trump initially “did not understand just how forceful a rejection of his strategy Mr. Mattis had issued.”
Trump praised Mattis in announcing his resignation last week, but on Saturday took a jab at him by tweeting that he gave the retired four-star general “a second chance” after former President Barack Obama “ingloriously fired” him. Mattis led U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, but his time at the helm was cut short because of disagreements with the Obama administration on Iran.
“Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should,” Trump wrote. “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.”
That comment seemed to refer to one of the most controversial lines of Mattis’ resignation letter — one in which he suggested that that his views on how to treat America’s allies differed from Trump’s.
“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,” Mattis wrote. “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,” he continued, adding that his last day in office would be Feb. 28.