President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Thursday afternoon that there is another major staffing change taking place in his administration. It had been speculated for quite some time now that General Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, may not stay in that position for much longer. Now, according to Trump’s Twitter page, Mattis will be retiring at the end of the year.
Donald Trump announced Mattis’ retirement in a pair of tweets late Thursday afternoon. Mattis’ resignation letter has been made available, and NBC reporter Katy Tur shared it via her Twitter account. As she notes, the Secretary of Defense wrote specifically about the importance of maintaining strong alliances and treating allies with respect.
As the letter continued, Mattis made it abundantly clear that he feels the administration’s approach to handling relationships with foreign allies and competitors is not in line with his own. He noted that his tenure runs until February 28, 2019, and that he believes staying until then allows sufficient time for a replacement to be nominated, confirmed, and fully transitioned into the role.
According to a tweet from Politico reporter Eliana Johnson, Mattis went to the White House Thursday afternoon to try to persuade the president to change course on the Syria withdrawal decision. When Trump would not back down, Mattis seemingly decided he could no longer continue in his position.
....equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
Philip Rucker of the Washington Post tweeted that it’s tough to articulate how big this departure is. He says that the world saw Mattis as the rock keeping things within the Trump administration’s foreign policy policies in check. People of all political persuasions can likely agree that Mattis’ resignation will have a massive impact on the Trump White House.
Mattis’ resignation letter makes it clear.— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) December 20, 2018
“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.” pic.twitter.com/8mkGFXKihI
“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 abrupt announcement regarding Mattis’ resignation comes at almost the exact same time that reports are detailing that the United States will also be withdrawing troops from Afghanistan quite soon. The way the decision on Syria has been handled has drawn criticism from people across the political spectrum, and that may turn out to be the case on Afghanistan as well.
Who will President Donald Trump put into Jim Mattis’ place as Secretary of Defense in the coming weeks? The speculation will surely get intense on this front in the coming days and while Mattis’ departure is just one of many making news right now, most would agree that this exit is causing more waves than most.
“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. He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result” via @helenecooper - https://t.co/dM4OeZvRRe— Eliana Johnson (@elianayjohnson) December 20, 2018