After President Trump appointed James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, Politico remarked: “There’s finally an adult in the room.”
According to Politico, James Mattis is both, a warrior, and an intellectual. The retired Marine general enjoys respect from military men, politicians, and the public. Although an avid reader, Mattis is gruff, outspoken, direct, and one of the few Trump appointees to enjoy largely bipartisan support.
President Trump, however, is looking into firing and replacing James Mattis after this fall’s midterms, the New York Times reports.
Citing more than a dozen White House, congressional and current and former Defense Department officials, the NYT described what appears to be a rapidly-deteriorating relationship between Trump and his secretary of defense. The two used to take dinner breaks together. Now, they are drifting further, and further apart.
President Trump’s comments about NATO, his administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the appointment of war hawk John Bolton as White House National Security Advisor have unnerved the usually stoic general Mattis, who reportedly continues to drift away from Trump.
President Trump, according to the NYT, wants Mattis to take a page from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s playbook, and act as a political supporter of the POTUS and his administration’s decisions. Although fiercely loyal, Mattis prefers to stay on the sidelines, and out of the limelight.
“Secretary Mattis is probably one of the most qualified individuals to hold that job,” Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee said, adding that Mattis’ departure would “create a disruption in an area where there has been competence and continuity.”
— helenecooper (@helenecooper) September 15, 2018
For President Trump, the bipartisan praise James Mattis has received – and continues to receive – throughout the entirety of his career, is unnerving. Trump, according to NYT‘s sources, is becoming increasingly annoyed with the public perception of Mattis as “the adult in the room,” and considers the retired general to be “a Democrat at heart.”
On multiple occasions, Trump sabotaged Mattis’ efforts to hire his own aides, increasing friction between the White House and the Pentagon.
In the second year of his presidency, NYT‘s sources claim, Trump is starting to ignore the advice of his national security aides, and the advice of James Mattis. The president has tuned out, and become confident in his ability to be the commander-in-chief.
With midterms approaching, Donald Trump is now looking to fire and replace James Mattis with someone willing to be vocally supportive of his policies. An apolitical general like Mattis, “who is vehemently protective of the American military against perceptions it could be used for political purposes,” does not fit in Trump’s post-midterm strategy.